(RxWiki News) We assume food stored in the refrigerator is safe and healthy. But certain bacteria can grow and thrive even when the temperature is cool. A Listeria outbreak in the midwestern United States has been tied to a certain brand of soft cheeses.
According to the FDA, the infections have been tied to Les Frères, Petit Frère and Petit Frère with Truffles cheeses distributed by Crave Brothers Farmstead Cheese Company, a group based out of Waterloo, Wisconsin.
One death has occurred and health officials are stressing the importance of food safety measures.
"Pay attention to food recalls."
According to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), soft cheeses contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes are behind the multi-state outbreak.
This bacteria can lead to serious and deadly infections, most often in older adults, young children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a total of five infections have been reported. One death has occurred, and one pregnant woman has miscarried. All of the infected patients have been hospitalized.
Two of the five cases were discovered in Minnesota, and Illinois, Indiana and Ohio had one case each.
The CDC reported diagnoses of the Listeria infections occurred between May 20 and June 17. The average age of patients in this outbreak is 58 years, and 80 percent are female.
Crave Brothers voluntarily recalled the products linked to the outbreak. These cheeses are distributed across the nation, and the CDC urges consumers to check their homes and discard any recalled products.
The CDC also warned that people at a greater risk for a Listeria infection — like people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women, older adults and young children — should take extra care. People in these groups should contact a doctor if they experience fever within two months of eating one of the recalled products.
According to the CDC, the bacteria is able to grow at refrigerator temperatures, around 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
"The longer ready-to-eat refrigerated foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more opportunity Listeria has to grow," the CDC stated.
The CDC highlighted the importance of taking steps to maintain food safety in the home: "It is very important that consumers clean their refrigerators and other food preparation surfaces and cheese cutting utensils thoroughly that may have come in contact with the contaminated cheese."
It often takes two to three weeks between when an infection occurs and when it is reported, and officials are monitoring the situation closely.
The FDA noted that it is still currently investigating the Listeria outbreak, alongside the CDC and state and local officials.