Routine, random testing by Tennessee food inspectors found Listeria monocytogenes in colby cheese and has triggered recalls of a variety of Sargento, Meijer and Amish Classics cheese products.
No illnesses had been reported to Tennessee officials or Michigan-based grocery chain Meijer, according to a state alert and a recall notice posted Thursday and Friday, respectively. However, it can take up to 70 days for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop following exposure to the bacteria.
“Listeria monocytogenes is unlike many other germs because it can grow in a cold environment,” according to the Tennessee alert. “Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women and may be fatal for individuals with weakened immune systems.”
Consumers across the country are urged to check their refrigerators for recalled Sargento, Meijer and Amish Classics branded sliced and shredded cheese, which can be identified by specific label codes listed below. No one should consume the recalled cheese.
Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled cheeses and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical attention and inform their doctors about the possible exposure to the bacteria.
All of the recalled cheeses were produced by Deutsch Kase Haus LLC, a Middlebury, IN, company owned by Guggisberg Cheese. It was not clear Friday evening whether the recalled cheese had been packaged under any brands other than Sargento, Meijer and Amish Classics.
Tennessee authorities and officials from all of the companies posting recall information indicated they are working with the Food and Drug Administration to determine the source of the contamination.
“On Jan. 30, TDA (Tennessee Department of Agriculture) took a sample of the Amish Classic Colby from a store in Trenton, TN,” according to the Thursday consumer alert from the agriculture department.
“Tests conducted in the state lab confirmed the food was contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the source and extent of the contamination and determining how many retailers received these batches of cheese.”
As of Friday evening, the FDA had not released any information about the investigation.
Amish Classics brand recall codes
The specific brand and flavor of cheese that tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes was distributed by MDS Foods, an Ohio-based company. MDS Foods cut and packaged cheese from Deutsch Kase Haus LLC in a manufacturing facility located in Tullahoma, TN, before distributing it under the Amish Classics brand.
“The manufacturer, Deutsch Kase Haus LLC, is instructing all wholesalers and retailers to discontinue selling their existing stock of Amish Classic Colby deli horns distributed by MDS Foods under the Amish Classic label with item number 55209 and sold as sliced deli cheese. They are also recalling lot numbers 110316V02, 110316V03 and 110316V04,” according to the notice on the Tennessee agriculture department website.
“The company is also removing packaged Amish Classic Colby Cheese with item numbers 55241 and 55245 which were cut from the suspect 55209 product and wrapped at the MDS Foods manufacturing facility located in Tullahoma, Tenn.
Meijer brand recall codes
All Meijer branded “Colby Cheese” and “Colby Jack Cheese” sold Meijer in-store deli counters are included in the recall. Deli counters in the Meijer stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin sold the cheeses from Nov. 10, 2016, through Feb. 9.
The recalled Meijer branded cheese was sold in plastic deli packaging with printed labels that have the UPC numbers of 215927xxxxxx or 215938xxxxxx — the last six digits will vary, and are determined by weight because the product is sold by weight at the deli counter.
“Customers should stop using the product and either dispose of it or return it to the customer service desk at any Meijer store for a full refund,” according to the Meijer recall notice.
Although only two Sargento Foods Inc. products came from the implicated batches of cheese from Deutsch Kase Haus LLC, Sargento is recalling seven products.
“The affected retail products are ‘Sargento Ultra Thin Sliced Longhorn Colby,’ 6.84 oz., UPC 4610000228, with ‘Sell By’ dates of ‘12APR17B’ and ‘10MAY17B’ and ‘Sargento Chef Blends Shredded Nacho & Taco Cheese,’ 8 oz., UPC 4610040041, with ‘Sell By’ dates of ‘H14JUN17’ and ‘H12JUL17.’ These products were packaged at our Plymouth, WI, facility,” according to the Sargento recall notice.
“Out of an abundance of caution, Sargento is also recalling the following retail products because they were packaged on the same line” as the affected cheese:
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