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Listeria’s Back for Your Blues


Drop that cheese! In a line stretching back to outbreaks with Blue Bell Creamery, Jeni’s Ice Cream, and a batch of Roquefort, two new cases of cheese-related Listeria have emerged in recent days, and though no consumers have come down with the bacteria, safety-related recalls have come into effect.

Maytag Dairy Farms in Newton, Iowa, recalled its signature raw milk blue after Iowa’s Department of Agriculture detected possible Listeria contamination during routine testing. The cheese—one lot recalled on February 13 and five recalled on February 19—was packaged in 4- and 8-oz. wedges, 2- and 4-lb. wheels, and 5-lb. crumbles. The compromised curd made its way into several Des Moines area restaurants and distributors—as well as Maytag’s farm store—before the recall was announced. Click here for a full list of affected products. There have been no reported cases of Listeria so far.

Cheese importer Mitica recalled wheels of cheese from Italy after testing found it also possibly contaminated with Listeria. The raw sheep’s milk Pecorino Foglie di Noci, Lot X2537, was shipped to nine states. Whole Foods separately recalled the cheese from two retail locations in New York and Florida.

A Listeria infection can have mild to severe effects. Pregnant women, children, and older adults are particularly susceptible. Symptoms are similar to the common flu.

If you’ve worriedly noted that both of the cheeses are made from raw milk, be aware that both are compliant with current FDA aging regulations of over 60 days. Proper sanitation is more about the method and environment in which the cheese is produced, rather than the fact of its raw milk, which is why the FDA is taking another look at how it tests and evaluates raw milk cheeses.

This article has been updated to reflect Maytag’s second recall of February 19.

Molly Borgeson

Molly Borgeson is from Boston, loves cheese, and has a pet rabbit named Barnabas.