WebMD Medical News
Daniel J. DeNoon
Louise Chang, MD
Sept. 12, 2012 -- Three people have died and 11 others are hospitalized after eating recalled Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese contaminated with listeria bacteria.
The Sept. 10 recall by Forever Cheese Inc. included one lot of the imported Italian cheese. It was sold to restaurants and retailers in California, Colorado, Washington, D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington between June 20 and Aug. 9.
The recall affects lot number T9425 and/or production code 441202. Products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants, and wholesale distributors. Ricotta salata is a crumbly, solid cheese. It is not the same as ricotta cheese, normally sold in plastic containers or tubs.
As of Sept. 11, the CDC had reports of 14 illnesses, in California (1 case), Colorado (1), Washington, D.C. (1), Maryland (3), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (1), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (1), and Virginia (1).
The three deaths occurred in Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York.
Four of the illnesses were linked to pregnancies. There were no fetal deaths, but two of the cases were in newborns.
The CDC advises people not to eat imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese, particularly if they are pregnant, have a weakened immune system, or are older adults.
The cheese has a four-month shelf life, so it still may be in refrigerators or for sale at stores.
If the cheese is found in your home:
Listeriosis usually begins with diarrhea or other intestinal symptoms. Patients soon develop fever and muscle aches. What happens next depends on a person's risk factors:
Cooking kills listeria bacteria, but they can grow and multiply in the refrigerator.
SOURCES:CDC web site.News release, FDA.