Panera Bread, everyone’s favorite lunchtime purveyor of soups, salads, sandwiches, and every conceivable combination thereof, is voluntarily recalling cream cheese because of a possible bacterial outbreak. While no illness has been reported, the company said the the recall was announced “out of an abundance of caution” after samples of one variety of cream cheese showed a positive result for the presence of listeria.

For those less familiar with food contamination, the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes  can lead to listeriosis, a serious infection. Honestly, it’s some of the worst food poisoning around. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea…you get the idea. The elderly and pregnant women are most at risk. According to the Center for Disease Control, about 1,600 people contract listeriosis a year, with 260 even dying from it. Given the serious risks involved, it makes sense that Panera would take such early precautions. Bacterial infections that severe are not a good look.

According to food safety experts, Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water so it’s very possible for a variety of natural and processed food to become contaminated. Obviously vegetables can become tainted through their environment and through the use of manure-based fertilizers. Animals can also carry the bacteria, resulting in contaminated meat and dairy products. Hence the cream cheese alert.

Panera said the recall applies to all varieties of the company’s two-ounce and eight-ounce cream cheese products. The recall also includes all cream cheese products with an expiration date on or before April 2, 2018. Tests for cream cheese with future production and expiration dates came back negative, so we can breathe a sigh of relief and get back to enjoying our morning bagels with a giant schmear. In the meantime, this gives us the perfect excuse to stick with butter. So much for those healthy eating resolutions.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Jessica is a former Associate Editor at Chowhound. Follow her on Twitter @volume_knob for updates on snacks and cats.
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