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FSA and UKHSA Warn of Listeria Risk With Baronet Soft Cheeses

The public is warned not to eat recalled Baronet semi-soft cheeses because they are contaminated with listeria, in some cheeses at exceptionally high levels

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) are warning the public not to eat Baronet semi-soft cheeses that have been recalled because they are contaminated with listeria, in some cheeses at exceptionally high levels.

Baronet cheese is sold in both small individual rounds and as 1kg wheels. The cheeses are sometimes served sliced from a deli counter, so it may not always be clear whether you have purchased an affected product. If in doubt, consumers are advised to contact the retailer they bought their cheese from to find out if the Baronet cheese they have purchased is from the batches affected and in the meantime to not eat the product.

Whole Genome Sequencing surveillance of listeriosis samples by UKHSA has identified 3 cases potentially linked to an outbreak. Sadly, one person has died.

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.

More information on the recall can be found on the FSA website.

Symptoms caused by listeriosis can be similar to flu and include:

  • high temperature

  • muscle ache or pain

  • chills

  • feeling or being sick

  • diarrhoea

However, in rare cases, the infection can be more severe, causing 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.

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.

Some foods carry a greater risk of listeria than others. These include:

  • soft cheeses

  • pate

  • smoked fish

  • chilled sliced meats

  • other chilled ready-to-eat products

Anyone who does fall ill with symptoms of listeriosis is advised to follow advice on the NHS website and to report their illness to their local authority.

The FSA and UKHSA continue to work closely together and with local authorities in response to this outbreak and further recalls may be undertaken if any more products are found to be affected.


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