One year before the deadly El Abuelito Listeria monocytogenes outbreak, FDA inspectors found nonpathogenic Listeria at the manufacturing plant, indicating that conditions for the growth of Listeria monocytogenes may be present. After the finding, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sent the Paterson, NJ company a warning letter enumerating El Abuelito’s food safety failures including:
- No Listeria testing
- No hazard analysis for each type of food it manufactures
- No preventative controls for bacteria and other hazards
- No written food safety plan
Listeria is a Known Hazard for Cheese
In the letter, the FDA told El Abuelito that “Listeria monocytogenes is a known or reasonably foreseeable hazard for cheese; sanitation controls are generally applied to prevent contamination of RTE food such as cheese from the environment, and environmental monitoring for Listeria spp. is usually used to verify these controls.”
Listeria monocytogenes thrives in cool damp environments. And cheese, especially fresh, soft Hispanic-style cheese, with its high moisture/low salt/low acidity content and refrigerated storage provides good conditions for its growth. These types of cheeses, particularly those made in facilities that are not hygienic, have been linked to numerous Listeria outbreaks over the last 20 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
El Abuelito Listeria Outbreak
The El Abuelito queso fresco Listeria outbreak ended in May 2021, with 13 illnesses and one death. Twelve people were hospitalized. Illnesses were reported from four states: Connecticut (1) Maryland (5), New York (4), and Virginia (3) The death was reported in Maryland.
Experienced Listeria Lawyers
The Pritzker Hageman Listeria lawyers have extensive experience representing people harmed by listeriosis and other foodborne pathogens. Our firm has represented clients in every major Listeria outbreak. We have obtained multiple million and multi-million-dollar recoveries including:
- $6.4 million for neurologic injury from a contaminated deli product
- $4.5 million for permanent brain damage from contaminated food
- $3 million for a pregnant woman who lost her unborn twins after eating contaminated food
- $1 million for illness from contaminated deli meat
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.