The Crave Brothers Les Freres cheese is being recalled from supermarket shelves after it may have killed at least one person and caused a Listeria outbreak.
Listeria monocytogenes can lead to severe illness for children and women who are pregnant or people who have weakened immune systems.
In healthy people, Listeria can cause symptoms including high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
Whole Foods Market Inc. is one of those supermarkets recalling the cheese, which has sickened people in several states, according to the Huffington Post.
The FDA said five people between the ages of 31 and 67 have been hospitalized and one – an elderly person in Minnesota – died on Thursday as a result of the outbreak.
One pregnant woman is believed to have suffered a miscarriage as a result of contracting the disease. Cases were reported in Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
Public health officials in Illinois said on Wednesday that one resident became sick after eating contaminated cheese in May, according to the Huffington Post.
The FDA said the Minnesota Department of Agriculture is testing samples of the cheese and early results indicate that there is Listeria present in the samples. Confirmation of these results is pending.
If ingested, Listeria can cause listeriosis, a rare and serious illness.
The cheese was sold in 30 states under names including Les Freres and Crave Brothers Les Freres.
On the company’s website, the cheese is described as: “This European style cheese was developed with care to reflect the Crave Brothers’ Irish-French heritage.
“It is a rich rind washed cheese with an earthy, fruity flavor. It tastes wonderful served with fruits and breads, paired with wine or in a cheese course.”
The cheese was cut and packaged in clear plastic wrap and sold with Whole Foods Market scale labels.
Whole Foods has now started posting signs in its stores to inform customers about the recall and said customers should throw away the cheese and bring in their receipts for a full refund.
Crave Brothers, which is based in Waterloo, Wisconsin, has announced a voluntary recall of Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles cheese made on July 1 or earlier.
It said the cheeses were distributed around the country through retail and food service outlets and mail order.
The president of Crave Brothers, George Crave, issued a statement on its website, saying: “We are cooperating with the regulatory agencies’ ongoing investigation of the cause of the potential health risks.”
The website urges its customers who have purchased any of the products “not to consume them”.
In 2011 a Listeria outbreak related to tainted cantaloupes sickened 147 and killed 33 people, according to the ABC.