Tainted ricotta cheese reported

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal health officials say ricotta cheese tainted with listeria bacteria is linked to 14 illnesses including at least one death.

The imported Italian ricotta salata cheese distributed by Forever Cheese, Inc., of New York is linked to illnesses in 11 states and the District of Columbia, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Forever Cheese issued a recall of one lot— 800 wheels of ricotta salata, or roughly 4,800 pounds.

The cheese was distributed to retail stores and restaurants in California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington between June 20 and August 9.

Jeff DiMeo of Forever Cheese said the recalled Frescolina brand ricotta salata cheese is from one batch manufactured in Italy’s Puglia region but would not name the Italian company that manufactured it. The Food and Drug Administration confirmed listeria was present in an uncut sample of cheese from that batch.

Most people who consumed the cheese would not know where it came from because it was distributed in large wheels for retailers or restaurants to break down into smaller servings or packages. Ricotta salata is a salty, white cheese made from pasteurized sheep’s milk. It is not the same as soft ricotta cheese sold in tubs and used in lasagna.

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