Lately, it seems like it’s really not all that safe to be a cheese lover. Recently, a bunch of supermarket shredded cheeses were recalled due to potential Listeria concerns — and it wasn’t an isolated incident. Whole Foods also recently expanded their recall of certain raw cheeses after two people in the Northeast died of Listeria and six got really sick.
While there’s no evidence that the people who died bought raw cheese at Whole Foods per se (or even shop at Whole Foods), investigators believe these people were sickened by tainted cheese. So, Whole Foods’ action is one of precaution and not one that indicates they’re guilty of selling people bad cheese.
The three recalled cheeses (Vulto Creamery Andex, Hamden and Walton Umber) are raw milk cheeses, meaning they’re made with unpasteurized cow’s milk. “Listeria is common in soft cheeses made with unpasteurized milk and unlike other germs, it can grow in the refrigerator,” says Alix Turoff, MS, RD, CDN, of Top Balance Nutrition in New York City. “Listeria is killed by cooking and pasteurization and with the push for more ‘raw foods,’ it’s not surprising that listeria outbreaks are becoming more common. While some processing of food is obviously bad and contributes to the obesity epidemic, this isn’t necessarily true of all processed foods,” says Turoff. Processing (such as pasteurization) is an important part of what makes our food safe to eat.
The recalled cheeses were all cut and in a clear plastic wrap packaging with scale labels beginning with PLU codes 0200307, 0201357 or 0206308 and sell by dates from Jan. 2 to April 2, 2017. If you have any of these, don’t eat them (no matter how hungry you are!).
If you’re worried you may have listeria, keep an eye out for flu-like symptoms, including fever, muscle aches, stomach issues and, as it advances, headaches, stiff neck and confusion. Be safe out there, cheese eaters!