Listeria contamination has prompted a Whole Foods cheese recall involving a massive batch of Papillon Organic Roquefort products.
US Food and Drug Administration officials conducted tests on a sample from an uncut wheel of this blue cheese. This is how they encountered evidence of the Listeria Monocytogenes bacteria, which can be fatal in 21% of the cases.
As a result of these findings, the American supermarket chain issued a voluntary recall of the popular cheese brand, to prevent a deadly listeria outbreak in the U.S.
Whole Foods generally benefits from a strong reputation as a seller of organic foods, after being on the market for more than 35 years.
The Fortune 500 company has very strict quality standards, and normally prides itself on selling natural products, which are minimally processed and don’t include hydrogenated fats or artificial coloring.
As a result, this health crisis comes as a shocker given the nutritional screening that Whole Foods tends to conduct prior to making items available on its shelves.
The listeria contamination involves all the Papillon Organic Roquefort batches from the stores, regardless of their sell-by dates. The items have been sold in all the Whole Foods supermarkets across the country.
So far, it appears no illnesses associated to the contamination have been reported, but it remains to be seen what the next weeks will bring, since the bacteria tends to have a lengthy incubation period.
According to food safety lawyer Bill Marlerhas, symptoms can appear as early as 2 days following ingestion, or as late as 60 days afterwards. Due to this delayed response of the immune system, the illness is extremely difficult to identify and track.
The signs are usually similar to those of influenza or meningitis, and they tend to include severe headaches, nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and high fever.
As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warn, listeria is a dangerous infection, which poses a risk especially to infants, elderly people and immunocompromised patients. In addition, pregnant women are also vulnerable to the bacteria, which can result in miscarriage or stillbirth.
Every year, approximately 1600 Americans are infected with listeria, and around 260 die following this disease. Given the severity associated with this contamination, federal health authorities urge those who have purchased listeria-infected products to discard them immediately, or to return them to the supermarket for a refund.
Moreover, if someone has already consumed the blue cheese and has started developing any of the symptoms pertaining to the disease, they should immediately seek medical care.
Image Source: Roquefort-Papillon