15 Sep 2014
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Company Pulls Potentially Contaminated Cheese

The potentially contaminated ricotta salata cheese may have been sold in Massachusetts.

Company Pulls Potentially Contaminated Cheese

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning Massachusetts residents of potentially contaminated ricotta salata cheese sold in the state.

Forever Cheese Inc. voluntarily recalled one lot of Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese because of Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

The recall affects more than a dozen states, including Massachusetts. The recalled cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants between June 20 and Aug. 9. The CDC has not reported the exact locations of the sales or companies that may have sold the cheese. 

“The recall affects lot number T9425 and/or production code 441202. Products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants and wholesale distributors,” according to the CDC.

The CDC offered the following information to consumers: 

Contaminated ricotta salata cheese has made people sick.

  • CDC recommends that consumers not eat imported Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese. This is especially important for pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.  
  • Even if some of the cheese has been eaten without anyone becoming ill, the rest of the cheese should be disposed of immediately.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. (See disposal recommendations below)

How do I recognize the contaminated cheese?

  • The recalled cheese is labeled Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese. It is a product of Italy. Consumers should consult with their retailer if they have questions about the origin of cheese.
  • Be aware that the recalled cheese has a 4 month shelf life, so contaminated cheese may still be in consumer’s refrigerators and may still be for sale in stores.
  • Ricotta salata cheese is often served crumbled or grated as an ingredient in some dishes.
  • Ricotta salata is a salty white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. Note: It is not the same as ricotta cheese, which is a very soft cheese often sold in plastic tubs.

Contaminated cheese may still be in consumers' homes.
Listeria can grow in cut cheese at room and refrigerator temperatures. Listeria can also spread to other cheeses cut and served on the same cutting board or stored in the same area.

  • Follow these simple steps if recalled cheese is or was in your home:
    • Dispose of cheese in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people and animals from eating it.
    • Wash the cheese drawer and other areas where the cheese was stored in the refrigerator with hot water and soap. Sanitize the area with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.
    • Wash cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store cheese. If possible, use a dishwasher; otherwise, use hot water and soap, followed by sanitizing with a dilute bleach solution described above.
    • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Who is most at risk?

  • Listeriosis primarily affects pregnant women and their newborn infants, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.
  • Persons who think they might have become ill from eating contaminated cheese should consult their doctor immediately. People can sometimes develop listeriosis even up to two months after eating contaminated food.

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