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Whole Foods Market's ricotta cheese recall is part of a nationwide recall traced to a supplier in New York. At least 14 people in 11 states have been sickened by possible Listeria contamination, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
About 4,800 pounds of ricotta cheese distributed by Forever Cheese Inc. of Long Island City, N.Y., may be infected with Listeria, according to the FDA.
The cheese was marketed under the brand name Ricotta Salata Frescolina. It was sold to distributors and wound up in grocery stores and restaurants in at least 21 states and the District of Columbia.
Original wheels of the recalled cheese are stamped with Lot No. T9425 and/or Production Code 441202, according to the FDA. But stores and restaurants may have repackaged the product.
For example, at Whole Foods Market, the recalled cheese was cut into wedges, wrapped in clear plastic, and sold with a Whole Foods Market label marked "PLU 293427." All "sell by" dates through Oct. 2 are included in the recall, the FDA reports.
More than a dozen customers reported getting sick after eating the recalled cheese. The FDA suspects Listeria contamination.
Listeria is a bacterium that can cause serious infections in pregnant women, newborns, young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Symptoms of infection include fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal problems.
It's not yet clear what caused the suspected Listeria contamination, but foods like soft cheeses can become contaminated during and after processing.
If anyone is seriously sickened or even dies from an infection, the person or company responsible for the contamination may eventually be forced to pay in a products liability lawsuit. Victims should seek medical attention and contact an experienced products liability lawyer who can guide them through the process.
Whole Foods is offering a refund to customers who return the recalled cheese to its stores. Forever Cheese has set up a recall hotline at (888) 930-8693.