Cheese Recalled Over Potential Botulism Contamination

Health officials are warning consumers against eating certain cheeses after an urgent recall was issued. Mounet Group recalled Mounet Group brand Labneh soft unripened cheese in vegetable oil on Nov. 18 because it may be contaminated with Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium responsible for botulism poisoning.

The recall stems from Quebec, Canada, where The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) alerted consumers in a notice last week that the cheese is subject to recall. The recall only affects Mounet Group Labneh – Soft Unripened Cheese in Vegetable Oil sold in the 350-gram size. The affected cheese products bear UPC code 6 16833 53867 4 as well as codes "Prod: 2021/08/15" and "Exp: 2023/08/15." According to the CFIA, the recalled products were sold in Quebec. No other products are included in the recall at this time, though the CFIA, which is currently investigating the situation, said other products may be added in the future.

The CFIA gave the recall a Class 1 classification, meaning that "there is a high risk that consuming the food may lead to serious health problems or death." The concern that prompted the recall was the "potential presence of dangerous bacteria," with it having been determined that the recalled cheese may permit the growth of Clostridium botulinum, the bacterium responsible for causing botulism, a rare but serious illness caused by a toxin that attacks the body's nerves. Symptoms of foodborne botulism typically begin 12 to 36 hours after the toxin enters the body, according to the Mayo Clinic, and include trouble swallowing or speaking, dry mouth, facial weakness on both sides of the face, blurred or double vision, trouble breathing, paralysis, and nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. Botulism may cause life-threatening symptoms, and it is advised that you seek urgent medical care if you suspect that you have botulism.

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In a statement, the CFIA said it is "conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products" and "verifying that industry is removing recalled products from the marketplace." In the meantime, the agency has advised that consumers check to see if they have the recalled cheese product. The recalled product should not be consumed, used, sold, served, or distributed. Instead, the product should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. With an expiration date of Aug. 15, 2023, there is concern the cheese may be in consumers' fridges. The CFIA said there have been no illnesses reported in connection to the recall at this time.