New York inspectors today confirmed Listeria monocytogenes in Toma brand raw milk cheese, prompting them to warn consumers against eating the product made by Cooperstown Cheese Co. LLC.

The company recalled the cheese “from customers” on Oct. 6, but neither the company nor the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets posted that recall information on their websites.

Consumers can identify the recalled Toma Celena “Raw Milk Alpine Table Cheese” by looking for plant number 36-8524 and an additional code of 51017. All package styles and sizes with these codes are subject to the recall.

The state did not report whether the recalled cheese is marked with any date codes. Consumers are urged to check their homes for the recalled cheese.

No confirmed illnesses had been reported to the state agriculture department as of today. However, it can take up to 70 days after exposure for symptoms of Listeria infection to develop. Anyone who has eaten the recalled cheese should monitor themselves in the coming weeks for symptoms of listeriosis.

“This product was sold at locations in Delhi, Hudson, Ithaca, Menands, Oneonta, Ontario, Peekskill, Phoenicia, Roxbury and Tannersville,” according to the consumer alert.

Who knew what and when did they know it?
An inspector gathering routine samples for the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services pulled a sample of the Cooperstown Cheese Co. product on Oct. 3. Three days later the New York State Food Laboratory returned a preliminary positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

“On Oct. 6, the manufacturer was notified of a preliminary positive test result and voluntarily recalled the product from all their customers,” according to the consumer alert.

The alert does not specify if those “customers” were retailers or consumers. The cheese company’s website did not appear to have any recall information as of 10 p.m. EDT today.

“Test results were confirmed on Oct. 13,” New York’s alert states. “The cheese will be destroyed by the manufacturer.”

Advice to consumers
Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled cheese and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should immediately seek medical attention. Potentially infected people should tell their doctors about their possible exposure to the bacteria so the proper lab tests can be performed.

Symptoms of listeriosis can include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. An invasive infection spreads beyond the gastrointestinal tract.

In pregnant women, the infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn. Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics.

Listeriosis can also cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections in young children, older adults, people with weakened immune systems, including cancer patients and organ transplant recipients.

Consumers with questions about the recalled product may contact Cooperstown Cheese Co. LLC at 978-257-4635.

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