A four-state queso fresco Listeria outbreak includes four illnesses in New York, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A total of ten people have been sickened, two of the illnesses are pregnancy-related. Among pregnant women, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth or premature delivery of an infected newborn. It is not known if the two pregnancy-related illnesses are a mother and child, or two pregnant women.
Health officials have identified cheeses made by El Abuelito of Paterson, NJ as the source of this outbreak. Last week, the company issued a recall for queso fresco sold under the brand names El Abuelito, Rio Lindo, and Rio Grande and halted production and distribution. Last night, with its on-site inspection of the company’s facility in full swing, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it’s possible that other El Abuelito products may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes and consumers should avoid all cheeses sold under that brand name while it works with the company to recall any other products that may be contaminated.
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Products sold under the El Abuelito brand name include:
- Queso fresco (Columbia, Ecuadorian, Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Venezuelan)
- Dominican leaf cheese (queso de hoja),
- Requesón (ricotta)
- Oaxaca-style cheese
- Crema Centroamericana and Crema Mexicana (sour cream)
- Queso Cotija
These products were distributed to stores in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. Illnesses have been reported in New York (4), Maryland (4), Connecticut (1), and Virginia (1). The CDC has contacted nine of the patients, all of them have been hospitalized.
Symptoms of a Listeria infection usually develop within two weeks of exposure but can take more than 60 days to develop. They include high fever, severe headache, muscle stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of balance, and convulsions. If you ate any of the products made by El Abuelito and are experiencing these symptoms, please see a doctor right away.
El Abuelito was warned by the FDA last year that it had failed to address serious food safety violations discovered during an FDA inspection. According to a June 2020 warning letter to the company, FDA investigators collected and tested environmental swabs from the facility and some were positive for non-pathogenic Listeria species, a finding that indicated Listeria monocytogenes could grow there, too.
If you or a family member are part of this outbreak and would like a free consultation with our experienced team of Listeria lawyers, please contact us today by calling 888-377-8900 (toll-free), texting 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below.