Listeria infection prompts another cheese recall

Esther Han

A Hunter Valley cheese company has recalled one of its award-winning products because it is infected with listeria.

People who have Binnorie Dairy's Duetto cheese, marked with the best-before date of February 21, are urged to immediately return the product. Anyone with health concerns is advised to see their doctor.

The incident follows major recalls by Jindi Cheese in Victoria in the past two months for more than 100 products contaminated with the bacterium.

NSW has eight confirmed cases of listeria linked to Jindi cheese products. A further two cases are awaiting laboratory testing.

By last Saturday, more than 20 cases of the bacterial illness were found across Australia. A miscarriage in a NSW woman and the deaths of an 84-year-old Victorian man and a 44-year-old Tasmanian man were linked to the outbreak.

Simon Gough, the owner and director of Binnorie Dairy said 46 units of the creamy mascarpone-gorgonzola blend had been sold, in a clear plastic tub.

Forty-one tubs were sold through its retail store in the Pokolbin vineyard district and five tubs through farmers markets in Newcastle. One unit equals 140 grams of the cheese.

“We are apologetic and we're grabbing everything we can to work out how this has happened, how the cheese was contaminated,” Mr Gough said. “This also occurred two years ago but the cheese didn't reach anybody.”

A NSW Health spokesman said there were no known cases of listeria infection linked to the Binnorie cheese. "We understand that a very small amount of the product is in the marketplace."

They said pregnant women, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems are most at risk of adverse symptoms if infected. Early symptoms of listeria include fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains.

The listeria bacteria has a 70-day incubation period, so new infections can still emerge.

"The listeria was picked up by the company as part of its mandatory testing as required by the NSW Food Authority. The recall was done as a precautionary measure," said Samara Kitchener from Authority.