25 January 2013

A further three cases of listeriosis have been reported in NSW in people who have consumed recalled soft cheeses.

On 18 January, the Jindi Cheese Company voluntarily recalled its cheeses from all batches it manufactured up until 7 January. The three recent cases have been exposed to soft cheeses produced by Jindi prior to the recall manufacture date, but are awaiting final laboratory confirmation of the link to the outbreak strain

“These cases highlight the need for people to check their fridges to see if they have any of the recalled cheeses and discard or return to the place of purchase any cheese that is on the list of recalled products,” said Professor Wayne Smith, Acting Director of Health Protection, NSW Health.

“If the brand or best before date is unknown, do not consume the cheese, rather it should be discarded. Friends and family members of people at higher risk for listeriosis, such as the elderly and pregnant women, should remind them to check for recalled cheeses.”

All of the recent cases have been in people aged over 65 years with one person in a serious condition.

There is the potential for further cases of listeria to be reported, as there can be a long incubation time from when people eat affected cheese until the time when people become unwell. This may be as long as 70 days.

Professor Lynn Gilbert, Clinical Lead, Infection Prevention and Control, Western Sydney Local Health District, said that certain groups should be aware that some foods are at greater risk of carrying listeria.

“Listeria is a bacteria that can affect a range of food products, particularly soft cheeses such as camembert and brie, despite strict hygiene and manufacturing controls,” Prof Gilbert said.

“The infection will cause minor or no symptoms in the vast majority of healthy people who may contract it, but is particularly dangerous for some vulnerable groups such as pregnant women and the elderly. Early symptoms of listeria include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains.

“Pregnant women, the immunocompromised, and the elderly, in particular need to be aware of this recall. Sadly, a woman in NSW has miscarried after contracting listeriosis,” said Prof Gilbert.

“It’s extremely important that at risk groups are aware of the dangers of associated with soft cheeses and what Jindi products have been recalled.”

There are a number of brand names included in the recall with a range of best before dates. Consumers can call the Jindi helpline on 1800 680 175 for further information, or see a full list of the recalled cheeses on the NSW Food Authority website.

Information about listeriosis, and the type of foods at risk, can be found on the NSW Health website at: www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/Pages/Listeria-Health-Alert.aspx​​