Three people in Maryland have been hospitalized after consuming Listeria-tainted cheese, and state health officials are working to help contain the multi-state outbreak.

Forever Cheese has voluntarily recalled Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand from one specific production date after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began an investigation.

The lot number for the recalled product is T9425 and the production code is 441202. It was sold to wholesale to distributors for retailers and restaurants in 18 states and Washington between June 20 and Aug. 9. Fourteen people have been sickened.

Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes causes the serious infection listeriosis. Symptoms include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea and other stomach upset usually within three days to 10 weeks. Pregnant women, newborns, seniors and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk.

The state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is advising people not to consume Forever Cheese Ricotta Salata Frescolina brand cheese or foods made with the cheese. Officials also say to clean surfaces such as cutting boards that may have come into contact with the cheese.

Maryland averages 15 cases a year of listeriosis, which is treatable with antibiotics.

Meredith.cohn@baltsun.com

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