(CNN) -- An outbreak of illness linked to consumption of tainted ricotta salata cheese has been linked to 3 deaths and 14 hospitalizations in 11 states, according to a release on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website.
The outbreak - blamed on the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes - is possibly linked to consumption of Frescolina brand ricotta salata from Forever Cheese lot #T9425 and/or production code 441202. The cheese was sold to distributors for retailers and restaurants in California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington between June 20 and August 9, 2012. The company has issued a voluntary recall.
According to the CDC report, all 14 ill persons were hospitalized. Four of the illnesses were related to a pregnancy; two of these were diagnosed in newborns. Deaths were reported in Minnesota, Nebraska, and New York.
Representatives for Forever Cheese claim that all distributors and retailers are being contacted in an effort to recall any and all remaining product in the marketplace. The company encourages consumers with questions to contact Jeff DiMeo at Forever Cheese from 9 a.m. -- 5 p.m. ET (888) 930-8693 and mention Recall. The CDC advises consumers to discard any remaining cheese.
According to the Food and Drug Administration, Listeria is an organism that can cause foodborne illness. Symptoms of infection may include fever, muscle aches, gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea or diarrhea. Pregnant women and adults with weakened immune systems are at the greatest risk and most healthy adults and children rarely become seriously ill.