One person has died, a pregnant woman has miscarried and three others were hospitalized after eating contaminated soft cheese from Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese in Waterloo.
The death was in Minnesota while the illnesses were reported in Minnesota, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The suspected products are Les Frères, Petit Frère, and Petit Frère with Truffles, all made before July 1. These products were distributed nationwide through retail and foodservice outlets including Whole Foods and Krogers as well as by mail orders.
The company immediately ceased the production and distribution of the products and issued a voluntary recall.
Crave Brothers said it learned about the contamination on July 1 from the FDA and state agriculture officials. On July 3, regulators went to the farmstead cheese plant to do testing and told Crave Brothers there was a multistate investigation.
"We are cooperating with the regulatory agencies' ongoing investigation of the cause of the potential health risks," said George Crave, president. "We immediately ceased the production and distribution of the Les Frères, Petit Frère and Petit Frere with Truffles cheese products as soon as we were notified. While we are still uncertain of the source of the contamination, our sympathy goes out to the affected families. In keeping with our voluntary recall, we will continue to cooperate with regulatory agencies to ensure consumer safety and have ceased production and distribution of our Les Freres family of cheese products for the time being"
According to the FDA, the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.
Healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, but listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women. Healthy people may consume contaminated foods without becoming ill.
According to reports, the FDA is conducting an inspection at Crave Brothers' processing facility in coordination with the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, and is working closely with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to determine the cause of the contamination.
Consumers who have purchased any of these products are urged not to consume them. They can return the cheese to the place of purchase for a full refund or discard it. Consumers with questions may contact the company at 800-647-7292.
According to reports, all of the victims in the outbreak reported consuming a soft cheese. Three said they definitely or probably ate one of the recalled cheeses made by Crave Brothers before getting sick.
Crave Brothers has won numerous awards for their cheese and hosted the 2009 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days at their farm. In 2008, they were named World Dairy Expo Dairymen of the Year.