A federal consumer advisory warns the public against eating goat cheese products made by Apple Tree Goat Dairy of Richfield, PA, because Listeria monocytogenes has been confirmed in the company’s products and production facility.
The cheeses were sold in Washington D.C. and Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia through the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative and farmers markets, according to the Friday advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No illnesses had been reported in connection with the Apple Tree Goat Dairy products as of Friday.
“FDA has concerns about Apple Tree’s goat cheese based on a recent inspection of the Apple Tree manufacturing facility, which identified a potentially deadly pathogen, Listeria monocytogenes, in the firm’s finished products and its production environment,” according to the consumer advisory.
Environmental samples and samples of finished product yielded 18 positive results for Listeria in the production facility and two positive results for Listeria in finished products. The company initiated a voluntary recall Sept. 20, which it posted with the FDA and publicized via other channels.
However, Apple Tree expanded the recall but was not as transparent, which spurred the FDA to issue Friday’s consumer advisory.
“Apple Tree expanded its recall to include all of its goat cheeses, but FDA is not aware of any public notification to consumers announcing the expanded recall. Accordingly, FDA is issuing this release and working with PDA (Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture) to monitor this situation and take appropriate actions to protect consumers from Apple Tree goat cheeses that may have been exposed to or contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes,” the FDA reported in its advisory.
Advice for consumers, retailers, repackers
“Consumers who have Apple Tree goat cheeses should throw them away,” the FDA advisory states.
“In addition, the agency advises consumers to thoroughly disinfect the areas where they had the products, such as the refrigerator, plates, and utensils used to serve the cheese.”
In addition to distribution through the Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative, the cheeses were sold at West End Farmers Market in Alexandria, VA, Ambler (PA) Farmers Market, and Doylestown (PA) Farmers Market.
Retailers and foodservice operators should also check their records and inventories for the products and take immediate steps to clean and sanitize if they have had the products in stock in recent months.
“If they do not know the source of their goat cheeses, they should check with their distributor or Apple Tree,” FDA advises retailers and other commercial entities.
“Wash and sanitize display cases and refrigerators where potentially contaminated products were stored. Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store Apple Tree goat cheeses. Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
“Retailers, restaurants and other foodservice operators who have processed and packaged any Apple Tree goat cheeses need to be concerned about cross-contamination of cutting surfaces and utensils through contact with the potentially contaminated products.
Listeriosis can take 70 days to develop
Anyone who has eaten or handled Apple Tree goat milk cheeses should monitor themselves for symptoms of Listeria monocytogenes infection for 70 days after exposure.
If symptoms develop, they should seek medical attention and tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Listeria monocytogenes.
Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. These symptoms can appear from a few days up to a few weeks after eating contaminated food. Listeriosis primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems.
Listeriosis is the third leading cause of death from food poisoning. It hits high-risk groups the hardest, accounting for at least 90 percent of reported Listeria infections and resulting in higher rates of hospitalization and death than most other foodborne bacteria. In pregnant women, listeriosis can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature labor, and serious illness or death in newborn babies.
Consumers with questions may contact the Apple Tree Goat Dairy at 717-694-0146. The FDA also encourages consumers with questions about food safety to call 888-SAFEFOOD Monday through Friday between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. EST.
For more information, please visit the Product Recall page for the Sept. 20 recall notice.
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