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Food Alert - (*updated on 5 June 2015) A French raw sheep's milk cheese suspected to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes

Issue Date

2015-05-11

Source of Information

Notification from the Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) of the European Commission

Food Product

Raw sheep's milk cheese

Product name and Description

Product name: Raw milk cheese from sheep "PERAIL"
Place of origin: France
Manufacture date: between March 15 and April 2, 2015
Best before dates: April 28 or May 17, 2015

Reason For Issuing Alert

- The Centre for Food Safety (CFS) received a notification from the RASFF of the European Commission earlier on that certain batches of PERAIL raw sheep's milk cheese which were found to have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, had been imported into Hong Kong. Acting on information, the Centre has contacted the concerned importer and instructed it to stop selling or using the product and alerted the trade to the incident. Further information was received today from the RASFF that another two Hong Kong importers had imported the concerned product.

- Listeria monocytogenes can be easily destroyed by cooking but can survive and multiply at refrigerator temperature. Most healthy individuals do not develop symptoms or only have mild symptoms like fever, muscle pain, headache, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea when infected. However, severe complications such as septicemia, meningitis or even death may occur in newborns, elderly and those with a weaker immune system. Although infected pregnant women may just experience mild symptoms generally, the infection of Listeria monocytogenes may cause miscarriage, infant death, preterm birth, or severe infection in the newborns.

*Updated information on 5 June 2015:

- On 4 June 2015, CFS received updates from The Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of France that the notification was withdrawn because the bacteria detected in the cheese concerned had been proven to be Listeria ivanovii, which does not justify the conclusion that these products are dangerous according to European regulations. The recalled products were therefore returned to the market. Listeria ivanovii is known to cause disease predominantly in ruminants.

Action Taken by the Centre for Food Safety

- The CFS has immediately contacted the two importers concerned in Hong Kong as notified by the RASFF to instruct them to stop selling and recall the affected product, and trace the distribution of the food concerned.

*Updated information on 5 June 2015:

- The CFS will inform the trade of the update.


Advice to the Trade

- Stop using or selling the product concerned immediately.

*Updated information on 5 June 2015:
The above advice is no longer applicable.

Advice to Consumers

- Not to consume the affected batch of the product concerned.

- Stop consuming the affected batch of the product if it was purchased, and seek medical advice if feeling sick upon consumption.

*Updated information on 5 June 2015:
The above advice is no longer applicable.

Further Information

The CFS press release

*Updated information on 5 June 2015:
Food Incident Post

Centre for Food Safety
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department
2015-05-11

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