Listeriosis outbreak in four states linked to Crave Brothers cheeses sold at Whole Foods

Some Whole Foods cheese products are being recalled because they may be linked to a multi-state Listeria outbreak that has already resulted in one death, a miscarriage and several hospitalizations.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says five people have been sickened with the same strain of Listeria monocytogenes across four states: Illinois (one case), Indiana (one), Minnesota (two) and Ohio (one). One of the Minnesota patients died, and one illness resulted in a miscarriage. All five cases, which involved patients between 31 and 67 years old, resulted in hospitalization.

Federal investigators at the CDC and Food and Drug Administration traced the cases through "DNA fingerprints" to Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles cheeses produced by the Wisconsin-based Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company.

Crave Brothers of Waterloo, Wis. issued a voluntary recall of the three specialty cheeses on July 3, which focused on these product lines with make dates of July 1 or prior.

Two days later, Whole Foods announced it was recalling the Crave Brothers products. Here's a list of how the cheese was labeled depending on the state where it was sold with corresponding packaging numbers, per Whole Foods:

  • Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas: Les Freres, PLU code 299682
  • Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah: Crave Brothers Les Freres, PLU code of 299682
  • Florida: Les Freres Wash Rind Product of USA, PLU code of 294473
  • Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey (stores in Marlton and Princeton only), Pennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, Washington D.C.: Crave Bros Les Freres, PLU code of 294473
  • *Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Wisconsin: Crave Brothers Les Freres Cheese by Pound, PLU code of 294473
  • Oregon, Washington: Les Freres Crave Brothers, PLU code of 294473
  • Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee: Les Freres Crave Brothers PO-RK, PLU code of 294473

Signs have been posted in Whole Foods stores to notify customers of the recall, the company said in the statement released on the FDA's website. Customers who have purchased this product from Whole Foods Market should discard it, and may bring in their receipt for a full refund.

Crave products were also distributed through mail orders and retail and foodservice outlets, according to the company.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can cause the illness listeriosis. Healthy people may not show symptoms, but young children, pregnant women, the elderly and people with health conditions that weaken their immunity may be at greater risk.

Typical symptoms include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Pregnant women may experience fever and non-specific symptoms, like fatigue or aches. Listeria infections can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery.

A 2011 outbreak of listerosis linked to Colorado-produced cantaloupes resulted in 147 illnesses in 28 states, and 33 deaths and one miscarriage.

The CDC has more information on the outbreak in a series of questions and answers for consumers.