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Cheese products recalled in 9 states due to listeria concerns

The cheese is sold under various brand names at grocery stores and delis.
Milton Prairie Breeze White Cheddar Style and Tomato Garlic Cheddar
Milton Prairie Breeze White Cheddar Style and Tomato Garlic CheddarParis Brothers, Inc.

A Midwestern cheese packaging company has issued a recall on 2,800 pounds of product due to fears of listeria contamination, officials said Friday.

The affected food came from the Brothers Inc. plant in Kansas City, Missouri, which converts huge blocks of cheese into consumer-sized portions, according to a joint statement from the company and the Food and Drug Administration.

The cheese is sold under multiple brand names: Cottonwood River Cheddar, D’amir Brie Double Crème French Brie, Milton Prairie Breeze White Cheddar Style, Milton Tomato Garlic Cheddar, Paris Brothers Mild Cheddar, Paris Brothers Colby Jack, Paris Brothers Pepper Jack and Cervasi Pecorino Romano.

Those cheeses could be on shelves in Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and South Dakota, the recall statement said. Affected stores include Price Chopper, Super Saver and Harps, among others.

The voluntary recall was launched after tests found listeria bacteria on a cutting board at the Brothers Inc. plant on May 3, according to Doug Schnell, the company's director of manufacturing and operations.

"We had a routine FDA audit — several entities audit us through the year — and we had a positive hit in our cheese room on one of our cutting boards," Schnell said.

That cutting board and cheese from that day were all destroyed and the room sanitized, according to the company.

"Anything connected with that particular board did not leave our building," Schnell said.

The company restarted operations the next day, but decided later to reverse course and recall the product shipped on the three days after the bacteria was found.

"We got together with [the FDA] and even though there are no reasons to suspect that the rest of that week was suspect, we agreed to voluntarily recall that product. It's really an uber-precautionary measure we're taking," Schnell said.

Listeria bacteria is found widely in the environment; it most commonly contaminates ready-to-eat foods like deli meat, chopped raw fruit and vegetables, packaged salads and unpasteurized dairy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 1,600 people get listeriosis infections each year in the U.S., and about 260 die. 

After consuming food contaminated with listeria, most healthy adults only suffer minor symptoms, like fever, headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, according to the FDA. But the illness can be serious for young children, older people and those with weakened immune systems.

Pregnant women are especially vulnerable and are at risk of miscarriages and stillbirths due to listeria.