Fears of the fever-inducing and stomach-battering bacteria listeria has prompted Whole Foods to recall cheese suspected of contamination. The grocer issued a nationwide recall last Wednesday, Oct. 7, stating that all sell-by dates are affected.
The subject cheese came from The Papillon Organic Roquefort. The questionable cheese can be identified by its clear plastic wrapping and its scale label, which begins PLU 029536.
Whole Foods has placed warning signs on its shelves and removed the suspect cheese. And so far, the grocer says it isn't aware of any illness related to the recalled cheese.
"Whole Foods Market decided to recall the cheese after routine sampling conducted by the FDA found Listeria Monocytogenes in a whole, uncut wheel of the cheese," said Whole Foods.
Whole Food's listeria advisory isn't the first to concern cheese. Just last month, a California dairy had to recall several of its soft cheese products over worries about listeria.
And this past summer was filled with listeria hysteria because of food poisoning fears over outbreaks of the bacteria that resulted in questioning the safety of pet foods, green beans and ice cream.
Concerns about the summer's surge in scares of the potentially deadly bacteria prompted the FDA to craft new rules on improving food production to quell the rising tide of listeria.
Listeriosis and its Symptoms
The infectious organism known as Listeria monocytogenes can threaten the lives of children, the elderly and adults who have weakened immune systems. Though rare, even adults with strong immune systems may experience some of the symptoms of listeriosis briefly.
Pregnant women suffering from listeriosis may experience "non-specific" symptoms that may include aches, fever and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A listeria infection can also induce premature births, miscarriages and stillbirth.
Symptoms for people not bearing children include loss of coordination, convulsions, confusion, fever, neck stiffness, headaches and body aches.
Prevention and Treatment
For cheese, the best practice for preventing listeriosis is to simply avoid any cheese product suspected of containing listeria. Unpasteurized cheeses are especially susceptible to harboring the bacteria.
For raw produce, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends thoroughly rinsing and scrubbing fruits and vegetables -- even peeled products should be rinsed and scrubbed with vigor. The produce should then be dried and kept separate from uncooked meats and poultry.
Listeria can found colonies in refrigerators, warned the CDC. So the agency urges consumers to keep their fridges at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below and their freezer at zero and under. It's also important to remember to immediately address spills inside refrigerators to prevent listeria and other bacteria from colonizing.