Public health official suspect that the cheese, which was sold in 30 states and the District of Columbia, was tainted with Listeria monocytogene, the bacteria responsible for the listeriosis infection. So far, the cheese has been implicated in the death of one elderly Minnesota resident and the hospitalization of another in June, as well as the illness of an Illinois resident in May.
According to CNN, infected animals rarely exhibit symptoms and can transfer the bacteria to their dairy products. Furthermore, the bacteria can thrive in a factory environment for years and is not easily killed by refrigeration.
Particularly at risk from the disease are the very old and very young, as well as pregnant mothers and people with compromised immune systems. In healthy people, symptoms resemble those of the flu.
Whole Foods is notifying customers about the recall via signs posted in their stores and is encouraging anyone who has purchased Les Freres, Petit Frere, and Petit Frere with Truffles made on or before July 1 to discard the cheeses. Customers who bring receipts for those products to a Whole Foods location are entitled to a full refund.