The public is being warned against eating Baronet semi-soft cheeses which have been contaminated by listeria, after the death of one person.
The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) issued the warning after some of the cheeses were found to be contaminated at “exceptionally high” levels.
Whole Genome Sequencing surveillance of listeriosis samples by UKHSA identified three cases potentially linked to an outbreak.
The agency confirmed the death of one person due to the listeriosis outbreak. The outbreak strain has also been found in some food products and samples taken from food environments.
However, there is no confirmation that Baronet is the cause of this outbreak.
The popular semi-soft cheeses are sold in both, small individual rounds and as 1kg wheels.
They are sometimes served sliced from a deli counter, so it may not always be clear whether you have bought a contaminated product.
When in doubt, contact the retailer you purchased from to find out if the Baronet cheese you bought is from the batches affected.
In the meantime, do not eat the cheese.
Affected batches which have been recalled are as follows:
- Baronet Soft Cheese (1kg) – packages with best before dates March 21, April 11, April 12, and April 18
- Baby Baronet Soft Cheese (200g) – packages with best before dates March 22, April 4, April 10 and April 16
- Mini Baronet Soft Cheese (270g) – packages with best before dates March 22, April 10, April 18
Symptoms caused by listeriosis can be similar to flu, including high temperature, muscle ache or pain, chills, feeling or being sick, and diarrhoea.
In some rare cases, the infection can be more severe and cause serious complications, such as meningitis.
Some people are more vulnerable to listeria infections – including those aged over 65 years, pregnant women and their unborn babies, babies less than one month old and people with weakened immune systems (such as those with cancer, HIV, underlying liver or kidney disease or people undergoing immunosuppressive treatment).
Anyone who does fall ill with symptoms of listeriosis is advised to follow advice on the NHS website.
The Baronet brand is owned by cheese-makers The Old Cheese Room.
A spokesperson for the firm said: “We are working closely with our local Environmental Health Officer and the Food Standards Agency and will continue to do so.
“As a responsible cheesemaker we carry out regular cleaning, disinfecting and swab testing of our making and ripening rooms.
“Since the test that showed a trace of Listeria Monocytogenes in Baronet, we have changed our monthly testing regime to positive release, this means that we test every batch of cheese before it leaves us.
“None of our other cheeses have been affected by this.”
Tina Potter, Head of Incidents at FSA, said: “Due to the outbreak of listeria monocytgenes linked to Baronet semi-soft cheese, we are urging consumers who are vulnerable to listeria infection – including people who are pregnant and people with weakened immune systems to ensure they follow the advice in the product recall notices, which details all of the products, which may pose a risk.
“We are also asking people to make sure that elderly relatives who may have purchased the recalled items, and who are at particular risk, are aware of the recall and observe the advice.”
Richard Elson, Head of Incidents and Response at UKHSA, said: “Listeriosis is a rare infection and most people will only experience mild symptoms such as abdominal pain or diarrhoea, which usually pass within a few days without the need for treatment.
“But people with weakened immune systems, who are pregnant, or are infants or elderly are at greater risk of developing severe symptoms.
“If you are in a group who are at higher risk of severe symptoms, there is information on the NHS website about what foods to avoid and what to do if you think you have listeriosis.”
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