Company Recalls Cheese Over Bacteria Fear

A Tennessee company is recalling cheese sold in seven states and distributed nationwide in gift baskets that could be contaminated with dangerous bacteria. No illnesses have been reported.

Sweetwater Valley Farms Inc. said its Southern Cheddar Jack Volunteer Special Cheese was distributed in 7-, 10-, 15-ounce and 5-pound blocks sold in retail stores in Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Virginia, Maryland and Alabama.

The cheese from lot number 539 was distributed between Sept. 19 and Nov. 18. It was also potentially distributed across the continental U.S. in gift baskets sold on the company's Web site.

Another Tennessee-based wholesaler, Le Gourmet Connection, said it sold 10-ounce blocks of the cheese through Jungle Jim's International Market in Fairfield, Ohio, between Aug. 28 and Nov. 19.

Sweetwater Valley Farms said the product could be contaminated with Listeria monocytongenes, a bacteria that can cause serious, sometimes fatal infections in young children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems. Short-term symptoms in healthier people include high fever, severe headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea.

The contamination was discovered in a routine sampling by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. The company said in a news release that is investigating how the contamination happened. A phone message seeking more details was not immediately returned on Friday.

Customers are urged to discard the product or return it for a full refund. They can call (877) 862-4332 for more information.