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Listeria Strikes Again in Whole Foods' Fancy Cheese Department

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An imported Pecorino wrapped in walnut leaves has been recalled.

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It seems everywhere you turn, food is fraught with danger these days: E. coli burritosSalmonella cucumbersNorovirus spaghetti! And even the fancy cheese department at Whole Foods isn't safe: A New York-based company called Forever Cheese is recalling imported Pecorino cheese after learning it may be contaminated with listeria.

The cheese, which is aged in walnut leaves and imported from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy, was sold to Whole Foods stores in New York and Coral Gables, Florida, says the Associated Press; it was also distributed to other retailers and restaurants in a dozen states. According to the recall notice, "The recall was the result of a routine sampling program by Forever Cheese which revealed that the imported cheese tested positive for the bacteria."

The FDA notes that "Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women"; the bacteria can also potentially be fatal for children and the elderly. No illnesses have been reported in this case, however.

This isn't the first listeria-related issue to arise in the cheese industry recently: Last October, Whole Foods voluntarily recalled a Roquefort cheese after the FDA found listeria in an uncut wheel during a routine sampling. And a few months prior to that, California cheesemaker Karoun Dairies recalled its products after its soft cheeses were linked to 24 illnesses and one death.

Ice cream companies have also been hit hard with listeria problems: Beloved Texas ice cream brand Blue Bell temporarily shut down operations after a listeria outbreak killed three people, and Columbus, Ohio-based Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams also suffered a listeria outbreak last year that cost the company millions.

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