Listeria death linked to UK cheese recall

Posted: 27 March 2023 | | No comments yet

The Food Standards Agency has confirmed that one person has died as a result of a Listeria outbreak in Baronet soft cheese.

soft cheese

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) have warned UK consumers to not eat Baronet semi soft cheeses due to a recall following a contamination with Listeria monocytogenes.

The UKHSA carried out Whole Genome Sequencing surveillance of Listeriosis samples and has found three cases that are “potentially linked to an outbreak”. The FSA has also disclosed that one death has been linked to the food safety issue.

New Food reported on the Baronet soft cheeses recall in our weekly Recall Roundup, however, since then the FSA has issued a further statement stating that some of the recalled cheeses are contaminated in “exceptionally high levels”.

Describing the cheese as a “pasteurised semi soft cheese with a pinkish orange rind and a pungent smell”, the FSA has highlighted to consumers that it is sold in both small individual rounds as well as 1kg wheels that stockists can cut down to order.

 “The cheeses are sometimes served sliced from a deli counter, so it may not always be clear whether you have purchased an affected product”, said the FSA.

Advise from the Agency states that consumers should contact the retailer they purchased the cheese from to decipher whether their cheese is from the businesses and batched affected by the recall. It has also urged consumers to not eat the product in the meantime.

“The outbreak strain has also been found in some food products and samples taken from food environments, however there is no confirmation that Baronet is the cause of this outbreak,” said the FSA.

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Listeriosis can cause people to have flu-like symptoms such as high temperatures, muscle aches or pain, chills, nausea/sickness and diarrhoea. However, the FSA has said that in rare cases, the infection can be more severe, leading to “serious complications” including meningitis.

Citing people that are “more vulnerable to Listeria infections”, the FSA has said that those over 65, pregnant women and their unborn babies, infants less than one month old and people with weakened immune systems should take particular care.

Advising consumers, Tina Potter, Head of Incidents at the FSA, said: “Due to this outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes, we are urging consumers who are vulnerable to Listeria infection – including people who are pregnant and people with weakened immune systems to ensure they follow the advice in the product recall notices, which details all of the products which may pose a risk.

“We are also asking people to make sure that elderly relatives who may have purchased the recalled items, and who are at particular risk, are aware of the recall and observe the advice.” To read the FSA’s step-by-step advice, click here.

Potter also noted that some food “carry a greater risk of listeria than others”, these products include soft cheeses, pate, smoked fish, chilled sliced meats and other chilled ready to eat products.

“If you are in a group who are at higher risk of severe symptoms, there is information on the NHS website about what foods to avoid and what to do if you think you have listeriosis,” advised Richard Elson, Head of Incidents and Response at UKHSA.

In addition, businesses have been advised that they must check whether they have been impacted by the product withdrawal and recalls undertaken by the businesses, ensuring that they observe the procedure and take the relevant action. If suppliers have sold onto retailers, the FSA has said is “vital” that each retailer carries out a product recall and informs its local authority.

The FSA and the UKFSA are continuing to work together alongside local authorities to investigate the outbreak and have said that further recalls may occur. New Food will keep you updated with the latest developments.

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