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Listeria Warning Issued For Mozzarella Cheese

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is cautioning the public not to consume Silani-brand mozzarella over fears it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

The cheese is sold in 340 g packages bearing UPC 0 650525 7 and a Best Before date of 2011 MR 01.

The company is also voluntarily recalling the product. The CFIA is monitoring the recall.

There have been no illnesses reported. 


Listeriosis

What is it?

  • The bacterium called Listeria monocytogenes, often found in soil, vegetation, animal feed and feces, can cause the disease listeriosis in humans who eat food contaminated with it.

Where is it found?

  • In vegetables contaminated by soil or manure used as fertilizer; infected animals can contaminate meat; unpasteurized milk may contain listeria, and certain processed foods like soft cheeses, deli meats and hot dogs can become contaminated after processing.

What are the symptoms?

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • cramps
  • diarrhea
  • headache
  • constipation
  • persistent fever
  • If it spreads to the nervous system, signs and symptoms may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions. In newborn babies who have been infected, signs include loss of appetite, lethargy, jaundice, vomiting, skin rash, breathing difficulty.

When do symptoms appear?

  • Symptoms usually appear within two to 30 days, and up to 90 days after consuming contaminated food, according to Canadian Food Inspection Agency. Average incubation period is three weeks, says Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

Who is most at risk?

  • people with weak immune systems
  • pregnant women. Although the infection may be mild in a pregnant woman, there could be a miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth or potentially fatal infection in the baby after birth.

How is it diagnosed?

  • Blood test. In some cases, samples of spinal fluid, urine or amniotic fluid may be tested as well.

How is it treated?

  • Antibiotics.

Food Safety

  • Keep foods out of temperature danger zone (between 4 C and 60 C; keep refrigerator at 4 C or colder).
  • Thoroughly cook or boil foods such as hot dogs and poultry products until they are steaming hot.
  • Avoid raw, unpasteurized milk or food made from it.
  • Buy only as much product as will be consumed in one to two days.
  • Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  • Wash hands before, during and after handling any type of food, especially raw meat and poultry.
  • Clean all utensils, cutting boards and work surfaces with a mild bleach solution before and after using.
  • Separate utensils for raw and cooked foods.
  • Follow “use by” dates especially on packaged goods with a long shelf life.

Sources: Canadian Food Inspection Agency, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, MayoClinic.com