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Bravo Farms recalls all of its cheese after listeria found at plant

An artisan cheese maker in California linked to a multi-state outbreak of E. coli is recalling all of its cheese after listeria was found at its plant.

Bravo Farms, which specializes in raw-milk cheese, sells Gouda, pepper jack, Tulare Cannonball and cheddar cheese at stores mainly on the West Coast but also elsewhere in the country. This month its Dutch Style Gouda sold in about 50 Costco stores was pulled after it was linked to an outbreak of E. coli.

At least 37 people have been sickened in that outbreak in Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fifteen people were hospitalized and one person suffered kidney failure.

California health inspectors investigating the outbreak then found listeria in the company’s facility in Traver, Calif., south of Fresno. The company said in a recall notice from the Food and Drug Administration that no illnesses had been linked to the listeria finding.

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The bacteria can cause gastrointestinal problems and miscarriages or stillbirths in pregnant women. Unlike E. coli 0157:H7, which can turn up in raw milk through contamination with fecal matter, listeria is not usually a problem in the milk itself but can pose a cross-contamination risk if it’s present in the environment.

Another artisan cheese maker in Washington state, Estrella Family Creamery, was closed down by U.S. marshals and the FDA in September amid persistent listeria problems found in the company’s raw-milk cheese and its facility west of Olympia. Listeria is a difficult bug to get rid of, according Bill Marler, a Seattle lawyer specializing in food-borne-illness cases.

All Bravo Farms cheese should be thrown away or returned to the store where purchased. Consumers can contact the company at (559) 897-4634.

Terry writes for the Oregonian.

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