El Abuelito of Paterson, NJ has expanded a cheese recall issued in association with an ongoing Listeria outbreak, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to three brands of queso fresco, the recall now includes Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese) and Requeson (Ricotta) cheeses.
Listeria can cause serious illness and death. Among pregnant women, the infections can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, and premature delivery of an infected newborn. Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve any of these cheese sold under the El Abuelito brand name or any queso fresco sold under the Rio Lindo and Rio Grande brand names, the FDA said in an update about the outbreak today.
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On February 19, 2021, genetic tests identified queso fresco cheeses made by El Abuelito as the source of a four-state Listeria outbreak and the company issued a recall for queso fresco sold under the brand names El Abuelito, Rio Lindo, and Rio Grande. Then the FDA began an inspection of El Abuelito’s facility and soon became concerned that other products made there may also be contaminated with Listeria. On February 24, the company sent a letter to its customers notifying them that the recall was being expanded to include Quesillo and Requeson.
The recall now includes all queso fresco products with sell-by dates through 032821; all Quesillo products with sell-by dates through 041621; and all Requeson products with sell-by dates through 031421 have been recalled. The products were distributed to grocery stores and wholesalers through February 16, 2021.
The recalled products sold under the brand name El Abuelito were distributed in CT, NJ, PA, NY; products sold under the Rio Grande brand were distributed in VA, NC, MD; and Rio Lindo brand products were distributed in NC and MD. Distribution information for recalled products sold under the brand names Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, and Ideal was not provided. Many of the quesillo products were sold in bulk packages ranging in size from 5 bs to 14 lbs and may have been repackaged by retailers and sold either without a brand label or labeled with a different brand. Click here to see details of the Quesillo and Requeson Listeria recall.
El Abuelito makes other cheeses and some meat products. These items are produced at a different facility and are therefore not part of the expanded recall.
Queso Fresco Listeria Outbreak
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include high fever, severe headache, muscle stiffness or soreness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of balance, and convulsions. Pregnant women, seniors and people with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of contracting Listeria infections.
According to the most recent information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Four illnesses have been reported from New York, four from Maryland, one from Connecticut and one from Virginia. Two of the illnesses in this outbreak are pregnancy-related. The CDC has interviewed nine of the patients, all of them suffered such severe illness that they needed to be hospitalized.
Previous Food Safety Violations
During an inspection last year, the FDA found serious food safety violations at El Abuelito including the presence of non-pathogenic Listeria species, an indicator that the environment in the facility was conducive to the growth of Listeria monocytogenes and the company needed to take corrective actions. According to a June 2020 warning letter the FDA sent to the company, the company’s efforts were insufficient.
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.