The discovery of potentially dangerous bacteria by the Georgia Department of Agriculture in the US has led a New Jersey company to voluntarily recall a brand of imported cheese.
The source of importation for the cheese was not revealed.
Georgia's Commissioner for Agriculture Tommy Irvin announced that the state's food sampling programme had discovered Listeria monocytogenes in Pinna Ricotta Salata cheese, produced by Schratter Foods of Fairfield of New Jersey.
The company has voluntarily initiated a recall of 6,702 pounds of the Pinna Ricotta Salata cheese, which was sold as bulk cheese and consumer-size pre-cut pieces at retail stores. The voluntary recall includes all consumer-size pre-cut cheese with sell-by dates of 4 January 2003 to 20 February 2003. The date is stamped on the outer plastic wrapper of each piece of cheese. The cheese packed as bulk is coded on the outer shipping carton as PD 5-23-02.
"We have been working with the Food and Drug Administration, which is co-ordinating the recall out of the New Jersey office," Commissioner Irvin said.
"As far as we have been able to determine, Publix is the only grocery store chain in Georgia that received any of the cheese. We notified them immediately and they issued a company-wide alert for their stores to remove the product from their shelves. Anyone with this cheese may return it to the place of purchase for a refund," said Commissioner Irvin.
Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, an uncommon but potentially serious disease. The most common manifestation of listeriosis is meningitis. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths, as well as serious and sometimes fatal infections to infants, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems such as persons with chronic disease, AIDS or HIV infection or taking chemotherapy for cancer.