Whole Foods is expanding its recall of Vulto Creamery cheeses that have now been linked to two listeria-related deaths. Citing “public health risks,” the grocery chain says it’s pulling the raw-milk products from eight additional stores, bringing the total to 17. That means any of five different Vulto cheeses — Ouleout, Miranda, Andes, Hamden, and Walton Umber — with a Whole Foods sell-by date of December 27, 2016, to March 4, 2017, should be thrown out. The FDA has the full list of affected stores, but the new locations include three more in Manhattan, two in New Jersey, and one apiece in Brooklyn, Westchester, and the Boston area. On Saturday, Vulto separately expanded its own recall to include Heinennellie, Willowemoc, and Blue Blais cheeses purchased elsewhere as well.
Founder Jos Vulto’s artisanal cheeses have a cult following in the food world partly because they’re raw, meaning they skip pasteurization. Proponents argue this results in tastier cheese that’s full of probiotics, but the downside is that these products don’t get the microbe-killing step invented to destroy listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and other harmful bacteria. Generally, this means nothing, since the FDA still requires these kinds of cheeses to be aged for 60 days. The two deaths and six illnesses reported so far were tied to a bad batch of Ouleout, a semisoft cheese that’s appeared on the menu at Gramercy Tavern and may be Vulto’s most celebrated.
Listeria is most dangerous when it’s contracted by a child, elderly person, or pregnant woman. Still, it goes without saying, the Food Poisoning Bulletin cautions, that anyone who purchased these cheeses shouldn’t eat them. “Throw them away in a sealed or double bagged container so other people and animals can’t eat them, or take them or your receipt back to the place of purchase for a refund,” it instructs. “Then clean out your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution.”