Whole Foods Pulls Some Blue Cheese Products Over Listeria Fears

Whole Foods Pulls Some Blue Cheese Products Over Listeria Fears
Food Safety Contamination

A Newton, Iowa, dairy has temporarily closed after a massive recall of its products due to the presence of listeria.

On Tuesday, Whole Foods announced that it was recalling Maytag Raw Milk Blue Cheese produced at Maytag Dairy Farm because, it said, it could be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, though no illnesses had been reported.

Liz Burkhart, a spokeswoman for Whole Foods, who added that the recall was issued “out of an abundance of caution.” She told CNBC:

“At Whole Foods Market, customer safety comes first. All Maytag Raw Milk Blue Cheese product has been removed from store shelves and destroyed, and in-store signage has been posted to inform customers.” [1]

Listeria monocytogenes can cause symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Young children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are especially susceptible to fatal infections. Listeria can also cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.


Read: Listeria on the Rise: How to Fight Bad Bacteria in Your Food

Maytag Dairy Farms started voluntarily pulling its Raw Milk Blue Cheese from shelves on Feb. 13, after the state Dairy Products Control Bureau detected the pathogen through routine testing.

The company recalled approximately 896 pounds of cheese that was distributed restaurants and stores in central Iowa and sold directly to customers. The initial recall was eventually expanded to include additional products sold in Iowa and other states, including Maytag Blue and Maytag Iowa Blue Cheese.

Whole Foods is not the only retailer to pull Maytag blue cheese products from its shelves. Hy-Vee, Fareway, and The Cheese Shop have also recalled the product.

Hy-Vee voluntarily recalled cheese sold from Nov. 20 through March 1 at 240 stores in Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The cheese was sold in wheels, cuts, and repackaged in foil or clear plastic wrap, as well as blue cheese crumbles sold in plastic containers.

According to the company:

“All product was labeled as ‘Maytag Blue Raw Milk,’ ‘Maytag Blue’ or ‘Maytag Iowa Blue Cheese’ and with PLU numbers beginning with 854089001 and with ‘use by’ dates between Jan. 20, 2016, and May 3, 2016.”

Though Fareway does not sell Maytag blue cheese products, it pulled other Maytag products from its shelves as a precaution.

The Cheese Shop destroyed all of its Maytag cheeses after the initial recall was extended. In addition to selling the chunks of the cheese, some of the prepared food sold by the shop also contains Maytag blue cheese. [2]

Consumers who purchased the affected cheese may return it to its point of purchase to receive a full refund.


Affected products are packaged as follows:

Wedges or wheels (all sizes) with lot numbers: 150479, 150480, 150481, 150482, 150483, 150484, 150485, 150486, 150488, 150489, 150492, 150493, 150495, 150498, 150499, 150500, 150501, 150506, 150508, 150509, 150514, 150515, 150516, 150517, 150518, 150532, 150533, 150534, 150535, 150538, 150539, 150648, 150649, 150650, 150651.

Product batch numbers on crumbles (both sizes): 950804, 960020, 950805, 960037, 950806, 960040, 950807, 960041, 950808, 960049, 950809, 960054, 950813, 960069, 950818, 960070, 950825, 960071, 960072, 950830, 960073, 950848, 950826, 950849, 960053, 950851, 960067, 950853, 960068, 950855, 950856, 950858, 950859, 960001, 960002, 960004, 960025, 960034, 960036, 960051, 960055, 960065, 960066.

The lot number or batch number appears on the side or the bottom of the product, the company said. [3]


[1] CNBC

[2] The Des Moines Register

[3] Austin Daily Herald

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

Featured image credit: AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall