The CDC has reported that as of October 11, 2012, a total of 20 persons infected with the outbreak-associated strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported from 12 states and the District of Columbia. The number of ill persons identified in each state is as follows: California (3), Colorado (1), District of Columbia (1), Maryland (3), Minnesota (1), Nebraska (1), New Jersey (3), New Mexico (1), New York (1), Ohio (1), Pennsylvania (2), Virginia (1), and Washington (1).
19 ill persons reported being hospitalized. Four deaths have been reported. Listeriosis contributed to at least two of these deaths. One fetal loss has also been reported.
Collaborative investigation efforts of local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate that imported ricotta salata cheese is the likely source of this outbreak.
On September 14, 2012, Forever Cheese, Inc. issued an expanded recall of all lots and production codes of Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese and issued a market withdrawal of all cheeses they received that were produced by the Italian cheese exporter.
Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese may also have been referred to as Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tipo Toscanella or Ricotta Salata Soft (lot number T9425) during distribution.
Labeling of the recalled ricotta salata cheese after it was cut and repackaged has been inconsistent. Be aware that labels of repackaged cheese may not include the words “Marte” or “Frescolina.”
Consumers who purchased recalled Marte brand Frescolina ricotta salata cheese are advised not to eat it and to discard any remaining cheese.
This is especially important for pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.
Cheese retailers should not sell or serve recalled Marte brand Frescolina ricotta cheese distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc., regardless of any expiration coding.