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February 15, 2014
LISTERIA FOUND IN CHEESE IN NORTHERN VIRGINIA

Contact: Elaine J. Lidholm, VDACS, 804.786.7686;  Maribeth Brewster, VDH, 804.864.7008, maribeth.brewster@vdh.virginia.gov

On February 10, 2014, Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause human illness, was isolated from a sample of Cuajada en Terron (Fresh Cheese Curd) collected by food safety inspectors from Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.  The sample was collected at Mega Mart, a retail store located at 8328 Shopper’s Square, Manassas, VA 20111. The product was sold in clear, unlabeled plastic bags held in the retail cheese display cooler within the facility. 

No lot or date coding information was included on the product packaging.  Individuals who purchased this product should not consume the cheese and should discard any remaining portions.  Those who have already consumed the product should be aware of the risks and symptoms associated with Listeria monocytogenes infection.

Virginia has not seen any reported cases of listeriosis associated with this cheese at this time. Listeria monocytogenes infection commonly can exhibit short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea when it affects healthy individuals. The Listeria monocytogenes organism may cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and individuals with weakened immune systems.  Listeria monocytogenes infection is a major concern for pregnant women because it can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and neonatal illness.

The consumption of unpasteurized or contaminated milk or cheeses can cause Listeria monocytogenesinfections. Symptoms of Listeria infection generally appear about three weeks after exposure, but may appear as soon as three days or as long as 70 days after exposure.  Anyone who experiences the symptoms described above and has purchased and eaten the Cuajada en Terron cheese at Manassas Mega Mart, 8328 Shopper’s Square, Manassas, Virginia should see a doctor.

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