The holiday season ushered in a flurry of product recalls by cheese processors.

In the last two weeks, the Food and Drug Administration recalls several cheeses made in the United States and Canada.

On Jan. 3, Bekkum Family Farms, Westby, Wis., recalled shredded cheese because it may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The cheese is labeled Grumpy Goat Shreds under the Nordic Creamery brand name.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

"Public safety is our main concern in a situation like this," said Al Bekkum, company spokesman, in a recall statement. "Even though our product has not tested positive for the bacteria, we are conducting this recall out of an abundance of caution."

Bekkum Family Farms was informed by Alpine Slicing & Cheese Conversion, Monroe, Wis., that its cheese was shredded on the same equipment where other cheese had tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes.

On Jan. 3, Alpine voluntarily recalled HEB Queso Cotija (Grated), El Viajero Queso Quesadilla (Shredded), El Viajero Queso Cotija (Grated) and BMF Queso Quesadilla (Shredded) because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

On Dec. 31, 2011, Alpine voluntarily recalled Edelweiss Creamery Premium Fondue Blend because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Alpine discovered the issue during testing of its products by an independent laboratory. No illnesses have been reported. Approximately 492 pounds of the recalled fondue blend was distributed to stores in Arizona, California, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Marie kade cheese recall labelOn Dec. 29, 2011, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a warning to consumers to avoid consumption of certain cheese and milk products because the products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The action came after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a health alert on Nov. 24 notifying residents of Canada of a voluntary recall initiated by the dairy plant, 3903052 Canada Inc., in Boisbriand, Québec. This large recall followed two previous alerts, fairly extensive product testing and a clinical match to a case of listeriosis. The recalled products distributed in Massachusetts have the brand name Fromagerie Marie Kade. All cheese products involved bear establishment number 1874.

On Dec. 27, 2011,  Green Cedar Dairy, Dearborn, Mich., announced the recall of All Natural Ackawi Cheese and All Natural Chives Cheese with a sell-by date up to July 1, 2012 because they may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The Michigan Department of Community Health and the Wayne County (Mich.) Public Health Department are investigating two recent cases of human listeriosis that may have had exposure to Green Cedar Dairy products.

On Dec. 23, 2011, Kradjian Import Co., Glendale, Calif., recalled certain Cedar brand Tresse Cheese and Shinglish cheeses because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. The products were distributed in Southern California to Mediterranean specialty markets.

Details about all of these recalls are available on the FDA website.