The Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DHMH) is warning consumers not to eat products made by Picnic Gourmet Spreads because these products might be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.
The potentially contaminated products include Red Pepper Feta Cheese Spread, Moroccan Cilantro Cheese Spread, Tandoori Garlic Cheese Spread, Herbed Goat Cheese, Parmesan Cheese Spread, and Chipotle Sage Cheese Spread. These products were distributed to retail stores in Maryland and other states including Kentucky, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.
The contamination was discovered after routine retail sampling by the DHMH Office of Food Protection, and subsequent analysis by the DHMH Laboratories Administration revealed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in the product.
The company has ceased production and distribution of these products, and DHMH continues its investigation into the source of the problem. There have been no complaints about these products to DHMH, and DHMH is not aware of any illnesses associated with the products to date. The department urges consumers who might have Picnic Gourmet Spreads products to dispose of them.
Listeria bacteria can cause a serious infection called listeriosis. Listeriosis is caused by eating food contaminated with Listeria bacteria and typically occurs within three days to 10 weeks of consumption (usually within three weeks). Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, which can be preceded by nausea or diarrhea. Listeria infection can be treated with antibiotics.
Persons at higher risk for disease include pregnant women, newborns, elderly persons, and individuals with a weakened immune system (for example: persons with AIDS, cancer, diabetes, or kidney disease). Listeriosis in pregnant women may cause fever and other flu-like symptoms, which can be mild. However, because Listeria infection can cause premature labor, premature delivery, miscarriage, stillbirth or severe infection of newborns, it is especially important that pregnant women avoid these products.
If a person has any of the above symptoms and has consumed products from Picnic Gourmet Spreads, they should consult their healthcare provider.