Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Imported Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese (Final Update)

This outbreak appears to be over. Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) is an important cause of illness in the United States. More information about listeriosis, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection, can be found on the CDC Listeria Web Page.

Recall

On September 14, 2012, Forever Cheese, Inc. issued an expanded recall of all lots and production codes of Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese, and a market withdrawal of all cheese by the Italian cheese exporter, Fattorie Chiarappa. Forever Cheese instructed consumers to dispose of any remaining recalled cheese. Products were sold to supermarkets, restaurants, and wholesale distributors. The cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in Alabama, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Washington between September 1, 2011 and August 31, 2012.

On September 10, 2012, Forever Cheese, Inc. voluntarily recalled one lot of Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The recalled cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington between June 20, 2012 and August 9, 2012.

Advice to Consumers

Photo: Imported Frescolina Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese logo

Imported Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese

This outbreak appears to be over. However, it is possible that consumers might still have recalled products in their homes, especially if Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese or foods made with this cheese were frozen.

Listeria monocytogenes infection (listeriosis) is an important cause of illness in the United States. More information about listeriosis, and steps people can take to reduce their risk of infection, can be found on the CDC Listeria Web Page.

Contaminated ricotta salata cheese made people sick. The following advice is especially important for pregnant women, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.

Do not eat recalled imported Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese. Discard it.

  • If you purchased the recalled cheese, consider discarding other cheeses that have been cut with the same knife or on the same surface as the recalled cheese. This is because cross-contamination from the recalled cheese to other cheeses is a possible explanation for several illnesses in this outbreak.
  • Even if some of the recalled cheese has been eaten without anyone becoming ill, the rest of the cheese should be disposed of immediately.
  • When in doubt, throw it out. (See disposal recommendations below.)

How do I recognize the contaminated cheese?

  • The recalled cheese is labeled Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese. It is a product of Italy.
  • Be aware that labeling of the recalled ricotta salata cheese after it was cut and repackaged has been inconsistent and may not include the words “Marte” or “Frescolina.”
    • Consult with your retailer if you have questions about the origin of the cheese, or whether the cheese you purchased may have been relabeled after being cut or repackaged.
  • Be aware that the recalled cheese once cut has a shelf life of 2 weeks, so contaminated cheese may still be in consumers’ refrigerators.
  • Ricotta salata cheese is often served crumbled or grated as an ingredient in some dishes.
  • Ricotta salata is a salty white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. Note: It is not the same as ricotta cheese, which is a very soft cheese often sold in plastic tubs.

Contaminated cheese may still be in consumers' homes.
Listeria can grow in cut cheese at room and refrigerator temperatures. Listeria can also spread to other cheeses cut with the same utensils or on the same cutting board or stored in the same area. Follow these simple steps if recalled cheese is or was in your home:

  • Dispose of recalled cheese in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people and animals from eating it.
  • Consider discarding other cheeses cut with the same knife or on the same surface as recalled cheese.
  • Wash the cheese drawer and other areas where the cheese was stored in the refrigerator with hot water and soap. Sanitize the area with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.
  • Wash cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store cheese. If possible, use a dishwasher; otherwise, use hot water and soap, followed by sanitizing with a diluted bleach solution described above.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Who is most at risk?

  • Listeriosis primarily affects pregnant women and their newborn infants, persons with weakened immune systems, and older adults.
Persons who think they might have become ill from eating contaminated cheese should consult their doctor immediately. People can sometimes develop listeriosis even up to two months after eating contaminated food.

Top of Page

Advice to Cheese Retailers and Establishments

It is possible that cheese retailers and other establishments might still have recalled products in their inventory, especially because labeling of the recalled ricotta salata cheese after it was cut and repackaged has been inconsistent. Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese may also have been referred to as Ricotta Frescolina Marte Tipo Toscanella or Ricotta Salata Soft during distribution. Be aware that labels of repackaged cheese may not include the words “Marte” or “Frescolina.”

Contaminated cheese may still be in stores and restaurants.
Listeria can grow in cut cheese at room and refrigerator temperatures. Listeria can also spread to other cheeses cut and served on the same cutting board or stored in the same area.

  • Do not sell or serve recalled Frescolina Marte brand ricotta salata cheese distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc., regardless of any expiration coding. If you do not know the source of your ricotta salata cheese, check with your supplier.
  • Dispose of recalled cheese.
  • Consider whether other cheeses available for sale could have been cross-contaminated from the recalled cheese, for example by being cut with the same knife or on the same cutting board. If such contamination is likely, consider discarding these other cheeses.
  • Clean and sanitize to prevent further illness.
    • Wash and sanitize cheese display cases and refrigerators where contaminated cheese was stored.
    • Wash and sanitize cutting boards, surfaces, and utensils used to cut, serve, or store contaminated cheese.
    • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Reduce the chance of future cross-contamination.
    • Conduct regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of food contact surfaces, equipment, and utensils in direct contact with cheese, such as cutting boards, tables, cheese slicers, and knives.
    • Make sure food contact surfaces, such as cutting boards, are smooth, sealed, non-porous, and easily cleanable.
  • Because Listeria can grow at refrigeration temperatures in foods like soft cheeses, the FDA recommends and many state codes require that cheeses be discarded within 7 days of the date that they are opened in a retail establishment.

More information about the recalled cheese is available.

For more information about listeriosis and recommendations to reduce your risk of getting sick go to CDC's Listeriosis webpage on prevention.

Top of Page

« Read the full Outbreak Investigation

 
Contact Us:
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    1600 Clifton Rd
    Atlanta, GA 30333
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • New Hours of Operation
    8am-8pm ET/Monday-Friday
    Closed Holidays
  • cdcinfo@cdc.gov
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #