TWO deaths and a miscarriage from a national listeria outbreak linked to Jindi Cheese have prompted the Gippsland manufacturer to recall all cheese made before January 7.
Jindi recalled some batches of brie and camembert last month after the cheeses were linked to an eight-case national listeria cluster.
This time the company has recalled 104 cheese products.
Victoria’s acting Chief Health Officer Dr Michael Ackland said in a media release today seven new cases of listeria infection were reported this week, bringing the total number of reported cases to 18.
An 84-year-old Victorian man and a 44-year-old Tasmanian man have died and a New South Wales woman miscarried from listeria infection.
The media release said “it is not possible to absolutely rule in or out a link for these deaths to Jindi.”
A statement on the Jindi Cheese website says the company “is cooperating fully with the Department of Health in implementing this recall.”
“As a result of advice that Jindi has received from the Department of Health, as a consequence of new Listeriosis cases indentified this week, Jindi is making a voluntary recall of all cheeses produced… prior to 7 January 2013,” the statement said.
Department of Health officials visited the Jindivick factory on Wednesday and reported they “were satisfied that appropriate food processing, hygiene and monitoring practices were being followed for the manufacture of products from January 7.”
Dr Ackland said Jindi was taking a precaution by recalling the cheeses.
“As a precaution the company demonstrated its commitment to the health and wellbeing of its customers by implementing a voluntary recall of cheeses manufactured up to and including January 6,” Dr Ackland said.
“On January 7 it implemented an even stricter regime of product testing and quality control, which Jindi is confident will ensure that all cheeses it sells are safe and free of bacterial contamination.”
“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.”
Jindi Cheese company brands in the recall include Jindi, Wattle Valley, Old Telegraph Road, Coles Finest, Blue Cow, Kingaroy, Kenilworth, Tomme Farm, Tomewin Farm and Willow Grove.
Also recalled are Top Paddock, International, Siena, Aida Valley, Dynasty, Emporium, G&K, Harris Farm and Enterprize brands.
The Department of Health advises that cheese identified as one of the recalled batches should be discarded or returned to the place of purchase and any cheese with unknown origins should also be discarded.
Victorian Department of Health spokesperson Bram Alexander told The Warragul Citizen last year listeria clusters of this scale are rare.
“Clusters like this are rare,” Mr Alexander said.
“In most instances they’re isolated cases, they’re not one connected to another.”
At the time of the last recall, Victoria’s Chief Health Officer Dr Rosemary Lester said listeria infections are dangerous.
“Listeria infection is particularly dangerous for pregnant women, their unborn babies and elderly people. It can cause miscarriages in pregnant women and even death in people with compromised immune systems,” Dr Lester said.
“Investigations into listeria are complex as it can be difficult to identify the source. Symptoms of illness can take up to 70 days to appear.”
Healthy people usually show only mild symptoms, but early symptoms can include fever, headache, tiredness and aches and pains.
New batches of the cheeses are expected to reach supermarkets and delis within days.
A full list of recalled cheeses is available on the Jindi Cheese website.
Get free email updates from the Baw Baw Citizen
Read more Baw Baw News