Brits have been warned not to eat a popular brand of soft cheese after a listeria outbreak caused the death of a patient.
Officials from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) announced on Friday that batches of Baronet soft cheese have been recalled after being contaminated with the potentially deadly bacterium, in some cases at very high levels.
For now, the Old Cheese Room has recalled packs of Baronet soft cheese (1kg), Baby Baronet soft cheese (200g), and Mini Baronet soft cheese (270g). They have warned that additional recalls may be necessary if more products are found to be affected.
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The UKHSA has identified three cases linked to the cheese after monitoring samples of listeriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria listeria.
A statement said: “The outbreak strain has also been found in some food products and samples taken from food environments, however there is no confirmation that Baronet is the cause of this outbreak.
“Baronet cheese is sold in both small individual rounds and as 1kg wheels. The cheeses are sometimes served sliced from a deli counter, so it may not always be clear whether you have purchased an affected product.
“If in doubt, consumers are advised to contact the retailer they bought their cheese from to find out if the Baronet cheese they have purchased is from the batches affected and in the meantime to not eat the product.”
However, health officials stressed that investigations are still ongoing and there is as yet no confirmation that the patient who died had eaten Baronet cheese.
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On average, between 100 and 150 cases of listeriosis are confirmed in England every year. Some foods carry a higher risk of the bacteria, such as paté, sliced meat and – as in this case soft cheese.
Listeriosis can cause symptoms similar to flu, including high temperatures, muscle aches, chills, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In some cases, the infection can lead to more serious cases such as meningitis.
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Pregnant women, older people and very young babies are at greater risk of complications from listeria, as well as people with compromised immune systems.
A statement from the Old Cheese Room said: "We are working closely with our local environmental health officer and the Food Standards Agency, and will continue to do so.
"As a responsible cheesemaker, we carry out regular cleaning, disinfecting, and swab testing of our making and ripening rooms."
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