Costco, and now Whole Foods, are warning customers that California's Bravo Farms recalled all of its artisan cheese -- including varieties carried by Costco -- after tests showed its plant was contaminated with the potentially harmful e.coli and listeria bacteria, the company said through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The move expands a recall from earlier this month of Dutch Style Gouda cheese that has been linked to an e. coli outbreak that sickened 25 people in five states -- Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and California.Consumers should return the cheese -- made from whole raw milk -- to the store for a refund.
Costco said the expanded recall only affects its stores in the San Diego area. Bravo Farms also sells its cheeses including Gouda, Pepper Jack, Tulare Cannonball and Cheddars at retail stores nationwide and online. As of this afternoon, the farm removed from its online store all its holiday gift packs that included cheese.
Bravo Farms apologized to consumers: "First and foremost to the people sickened in recent weeks, we are taking this very seriously and are deeply saddened. We've never chosen profits over our customers, and will continue to make decisions based on your safety not the safety of the company. We are working to be certain our cheeses are completely safe, and to identify the cause of this tragedy. We pray that God gives us wisdom to make the best decisions on locating the source, and to also keep anyone else from becoming ill."
Bravo Farms has been testing its plant to find the source of the e. coli contamination and that is when investigators also found the listeria contamination. The farm said so far no instances of Listeria infection have been reported.
An e. coli infection can cause diarrhea, cramps and other symptoms. In severe cases, it can cause kidney failure. Listeria can cause flu-like symptoms and diarrhea in normally healthy people and potentially fatal infections in young children or those with weakened immune systems.
Consumers with questions can call Bravo Farms at (559) 897-4634.
Bravo Farms is the latest raw milk cheese maker to recall its cheese because of potential contamination. Two other dairies -- one in Washington and a second in Missouri -- are in battles with the FDA over recalled cheese.
Costco Cheese Recall Widens to Include All Bravo Farms Cheese