A plant-based cheese brand has been linked to five serious Listeria infections in France.

The five cases of listeriosis include four pregnant women who gave birth prematurely. They were infected with the same type of Listeria and reported symptoms between April and December 2022. No related deaths have been reported.

Health officials said that patients had consumed products sold under the Jay & Joy brand in the weeks before their illness. The firm makes cheese alternatives from almond milk and organic cashew nuts.

Santé Publique France, the National Reference Center (CNR) Listeria, the Directorate General for Food (DGAL), the Directorate General for Competition, Consumption and the Repression of Fraud (DGCCRF), and the General Directorate of Health (DGS) are involved in the outbreak investigation.

Control measures and recall
An inspection has revealed “irregularities” at the company, especially around controls to manage the microbiological contamination risk of products made in the factory. Authorities have suspended the marketing of all products stored and manufactured at the site. Epidemiological and microbiological investigations are ongoing.

Jay & Joy has issued a withdrawal and recall notice for all products with dates between Jan. 14 and March 30, 2023. Distributors include Biocoop, Naturalia, Relais Vert, Vita Frais, Natureco, and Effegi. People were asked by officials not to consume these products and to return items to the place of sale.

Distribution of affected products also includes Austria, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom, according to a notification on the EU’s Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) platform. 

Three additional cases have been identified in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. People were questioned by national health authorities in these countries and confirmed consumption of Jay & Joy products.

The company recalled a product in France in April 2022 because of Listeria. In July, Jay & Joy issued a recall in France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands due to potential Listeria contamination, and another recall for Listeria was made in August in Belgium.

About Listeria
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled product and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for food poisoning symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop. 

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses. 

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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