Roos Foods, a Delaware ompany, has recalled 16 varieties of cheeses after some of its brand were linked to a listeria outbreak, which according to the CDC caused one death in California and seven illnesses in Maryland. A full list of the recalled cheeses can be found on the FDA’s website.
Listeria is a bacterium, commonly found in soil and water, and affects mainly pregnant women, newborns, the elderly, and adults with impaired immune systems. Outbreaks of listeria have been primarily linked to deli meats and hot dogs, however most recently outbreaks have been caused more by soft Mexican-style cheeses, like queso fresco, and other cheeses that were either made from unpasteurized milk (i.e. brie, feta, and Roguefort) or contaminated during cheese-making (usually do to unsanitary conditions). It has also been found in smoked seafood (i.e. salmon, trout, whitefish), raw milk, and sprouts such as alfafa, clover, radish and mung bean.
During pregnancy woman are strongly advised to avoid these foods since the infection can result in miscarriage, premature delivery, serious infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth. They are also advised to avoid the following foods because of other potential dangers from food-borne illness:
- Raw or undercooked meat, poultry, or fish (including shellfish)
- Raw eggs, which can be found in homemade Caesar dressing, mayonnaise, ice cream, or hollandaise sauces.
- Fish that contain high levels of mercury (i.e. shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish)
- Unpasteurized juice (i.e. cider)
Listeria can be killed by cooking and pasteurization. If a pregnant woman wants to eat deli meat, it should be reheated until the meat is steaming; the same goes for smoked seafood, which is also safe to eat if it is an ingredient in a dish that has been thoroughly cooked. Pasteurized cheese and milk are recommended during pregnancy, especially since a pregnant woman’s calcium needs increase.
If you are pregnant and ever suspect that you have been in contact with a food borne illness, make sure to contact your physician immediately.