Third Listeria death linked to Australian cheese company

A third person has died following a listeria outbreak linked to soft cheeses produced in the Australian state of Victoria.

Victoria’s acting chief health officer, Dr Michael Ackland, has confirmed the death of a 68-year-old New South Wales man in late January was linked to the listeria contamination of Jindi cheese products.

An 84-year-old Victorian man and a 44-year-old Tasmanian man have also died of listeria infection. A pregnant NSW woman miscarried. More than 20 listeriaother cases have been reported.

Jindi has voluntarily recalled all batches of cheese manufactured up to January 6.

The Newcastle Herald cited Dr Ackland as saying the outbreak, which has been traced to the company’s factory in Gippsland, was the largest the nation had suffered and one of the most complex. He described the process of tracking the outbreak to Jindi as ”an important piece of investigative work”, which involved obtaining food histories from victims and intelligence from OzFoodNet, the federal food diseases surveillance unit, as well as bacterial DNA tests to determine the strain of listeria.

On January 7, Jindi’s French-owned parent company, Lactalis – which bought the gourmet cheese maker from Menora Foods in November for an estimated $20 million – voluntarily committed to a quality assurance program jindi.cheese.listeria.13that ”significantly cranks up” its existing food safety standards and has satisfied Victoria’s chief health officer.

Jindi’s chief executive, Franck Beaurain, has not returned telephone calls from Fairfax Media for more than a week.