Canadian cheese giant Saputo Inc. is expanding a recall on certain cheese slice products because they may be contaminated with listeria bacteria.
A week ago, the Montreal-based company recalled Faith Farms Ribbon Slices process cheese sold in two kilogram packs with a best before date of May 5, 2011.
The recall is now being expanded to cheese products with establishment number REG:1900 which have been sold in two kilogram packs.
Certain Faith Farms brand process cheese, St.-Albert ribbon slices process cheese, and Sunspun brand sliced cheese have been affected.
The products have been distributed nationally, but no illnesses have been reported.
Saputo is investigating the matter with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and has since closed a production line in an unidentified Quebec plant where the cheese was processed.
While the exact cause of the incident "remains undetermined," Saputo says it's placing public heath interest first by recalling all process cheese products made on the affected line.
Meanwhile, production has been redirected to another facility while the investigation continues.
The recalled cheese was sold through cash and carry and deli stores, and may also have been sold to food service institutions like restaurants, hospitals, day care centres and nursing homes.
Saputo, which is Canada's largest cheese processor, says the voluntary recall represents approximately 150,000 kilograms of cheese.
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can cause listeriosis.
The food-borne illness can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness and nausea. Pregnant women, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are particularly at risk.
Severe cases of Listeria contamination can be fatal.
The biggest food recall in Canadian history involved a 2008 contamination of processed meats made at a Maple Leaf Foods plant in Toronto. The listeriosis outbreak was blamed for 20 deaths across Canada.