September 12, 2012 — The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is warning that imported ricotta salata cheese tainted with the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria has sickened at least 14 people and caused at least three fatalities. Everyone who was sickened required hospitalization. The Frescolina brand of ricotta cheese was imported from Italy by Forever Cheese, Inc. of New York. Illnesses have been confirmed in 11 states and the District of Columbia.
Ricotta salata is a dry, salty, crumbly, white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. It is different from the soft ricotta normally used in lasagnas. A spokesman for Forever Cheese said the product was manufactured in Italy’s Puglia region. He did not name the company responsible for the product.
According to the CDC, collaborative investigations at the local, state, and national level have identified imported ricotta salata cheese as the source of the outbreak. Investigators use the DNA “fingerprints” of the specific strain of Listeria to identify cases associated with the outbreak. In interviews, 86% of people reported eating soft cheese. People reported eating many different types of cheeses, indicating that one contaminated product may have cross-contaminated several other products.
Investigators identified the outbreak strain of Listeria in a sample of uncut imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese.
The CDC recommends that consumers should not eat imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese. The product has a 4-month shelf life, so contaminated cheese may still be in stores or consumers’ refrigerators. Listeria can grow in a refrigerator. The CDC is also recommending that anyone who has purchased the product and stored it in their refrigerator should disinfect any areas that may have been contaminated — including cutting boards, utensils, and surfaces that may have contacted the cheese.
The number of ill people identified in each state is as follows:
- California (1)
- Colorado (1)
- District of Columbia (1)
- Maryland (3)
- Minnesota (1)
- Nebraska (1)
- New Jersey (1)
- New Mexico (1)
- New York (1)
- Ohio (1)
- Pennsylvania (1)
- Virginia (1)
The Listeria bacteria can thrive in refrigerated environments. It is rarer than E. coli or Salmonella, but has a higher risk of severe injury or death. The bacteria can cause life-threatening dehydration or blood infections, which are especially dangerous in vulnerable populations. People most at risk are young children, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with a compromised immune system.
Do I have a Frescolina Ricotta Cheese Lawsuit?
The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting food poisoning induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by an outbreak of Listeria linked to Frescolina ricotta cheese, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Food Poisoning Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.
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