Public warned not to eat Baronet cheese after deadly listeria outbreak
The public has been warned not to eat Baronet cheese after a listeria outbreak caused the death of a patient.
Health officials said on Friday that the semi-soft cheese has been recalled after being contaminated with the bacteria, in some cases at very high levels.
The pasteurised cheese, manufactured in Wiltshire, has a washed pinkish orange rind and is described as full-bodied, rich and buttery.
Officials said further recalls may be undertaken if more products are found to be affected.
The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) identified three cases linked to the cheese after monitoring samples of listeriosis, the illness caused by the bacteria listeria.
One of the individuals involved has died, UKHSA said.
No direct link to Baronet
Around 120 cases of listeriosis are confirmed in England every year and some foods carry greater risk of the bacteria, such as soft cheeses, pate and chilled sliced meats.
A genetically related strain of listeria found in the samples of Baronet cheese was found in all three cases examined by UKHSA.
But officials said investigations are ongoing and the link does not mean the patient who died had eaten Baronet cheese. There is also no confirmation that Baronet is the cause of the outbreak.
The cheese is sold in both small individual rounds and as 1kg wheels, but they can sometimes be served sliced from a deli counter.
Consumers are advised to contact their retailer to find out if the Baronet they have purchased is from the affected batches, but should not eat the product in the meantime.
Those at risk from listeria
Symptoms caused by listeriosis can be similar to flu, including high temperature, muscle ache, chills, vomiting and diarrhoea.
In rare cases, the infection can cause serious complications such as meningitis.
Those aged over-65, pregnant women, newborn babies and people with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to listeria infections.
Tina Potter, head of incidents at FSA, asked those considered most vulnerable “to ensure they follow the advice in the product recall notices, which details all of the products, which may pose a risk.”
Families are also urged to make sure elderly relatives who may have purchased the products are aware of the recall.
The Old Cheese Room, which manufactures the product, has recalled Baronet soft cheese (1kg), Baby Baronet soft cheese (200g), and Mini Baronet soft cheese (270g).
Other cheeses unaffected
In a statement, the cheesemonger 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.”