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Listeria outbreak investigation leads to recall of soft, Queso style cheeses

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Listeria outbreak investigation leads to recall of soft, Queso style cheeses

A New Jersey company is recalling 17 soft cheese products sold under three brands because it has been linked to an outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections that has hospitalized at least seven people.

There is concern that consumers may have the recalled cheese in their homes because it has not yet reached its expiration date of Feb. 26.

El Abuelito Cheese of Paterson, NJ, is recalling all Queso Fresco (Fresh, soft cheese) products, because the Connecticut Department of Public Health collected product samples of the company’s Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from a store where an outbreak patient bought cheeses. Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes, according to the company’s recall notice posted by the Food and Drug Administration.

“El Abuelito has ceased the production and distribution of the product as FDA and El Abuelito continue their investigation as to what caused the problem,” according to the recall notice.

For a complete list of the recalled products, please see the table below. For photos of the recalled products not shown on this page, please click here. All of the recalled products were produced at Plant #34-12179.

El Abuelito sent the implicated cheese to several states, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland. The company distributed the recalled cheeses through Feb. 16. The cheese was available to wholesalers, supermarkets and other retail stores.

As of the most recent outbreak update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven people have been confirmed as outbreak patients. All have required hospitalization. They are spread across four states, New York, Connecticut, Virginia and Maryland.

“Samples are currently undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples is a match to the outbreak strain. At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco,” according to the recall notice.

Consumers who have purchased the recalled Queso Fresco products are urged not to consume and to return product to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions may contact directly El Abuelito 973-345-3503.

To determine whether they have recalled cheese in their homes, consumers can use the following label information.

Brand

Product Name

Size

Container Type

UPC Code

El Abuelito Cheese

Queso Fresco Regular

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100003

Queso Fresco Promoción

10 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100078

Queso Fresco de Hoja

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100065

Queso Fresco

5 Lb.

Vacuum Packed

673130100058

Queso Fresco Guatemala

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100027

Rio Grande Food Products, Inc.

Chirilagua Queso de Hacienda

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529005571

Queso Fresco Campestre con Hoja

14 oz.

Plastic Container

812324031161

Queso Fresco Campestre Artesanal

14 oz.

Plastic Container

738529002518

Queso Fresco con Hoja

14 oz.

Plastic Container

738529004581

Queso Fresco Yorito

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529005564

Queso Fresco Olancho

14 oz.

Plastic Container

812324031222

Cuajada Fresca Guatemalteca

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001276

Cuajada Fresca Hondureña

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001269

Cuajada Fresca Salvadoreña

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001252

Rio Lindo

Queso Fresco Mexicano

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088587

Queso Fresco Hondureño

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088591

Queso Fresco Salvadoreño

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088607

About Listeria infections
Food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes may not look or smell spoiled but can still cause serious and sometimes life-threatening infections. Anyone who has eaten any recalled cheese and developed symptoms of Listeria infection should seek medical treatment and tell their doctors about the possible Listeria exposure.

Also, anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products should monitor themselves for symptoms during the coming weeks because it can take up to 70 days after exposure to Listeria for symptoms of listeriosis to develop.

Symptoms of Listeria infection can include vomiting, nausea, persistent fever, muscle aches, severe headache, and neck stiffness. Specific laboratory tests are required to diagnose Listeria infections, which can mimic other illnesses.

Pregnant women, the elderly, young children, and people such as cancer patients who have weakened immune systems are particularly at risk of serious illnesses, life-threatening infections, and other complications. Although infected pregnant women may experience only mild, flu-like symptoms, their infections can lead to premature delivery, infection of the newborn, or even stillbirth.

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