In the course of investigating an ongoing Listeria outbreak linked to Hispanic-style soft cheeses, the Connecticut Department of Health found Listeria in El Abuelito queso fresco purchased from a grocery store. Connecticut health officials moved to test samples of the cheese, made in Paterson, NJ after one of the people sickened in the outbreak reported eating it before they became ill. The Listeria isolate from the cheese is now undergoing genetic testing to see if its “fingerprint” matches the print of the isolate cultured from the patients sickened in this outbreak.
El Abuelito has not issued a recall for the cheese so the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and state health officials are warning consumers not to eat any El Abuelito brand queso fresco as Listeria can cause serious illness and death. Among pregnant women, who are at high-risk for infections, it can trigger miscarriage or stillbirth. All of the people sickened in this outbreak were hospitalized.
The cheese that tested positive for was a 10-ounce package of El Abuelito Queso Fresco sold in a plastic container with a sticker bearing the lot number A027 and the date of February 26, 2021.
Food Safety Violations
Last year, the FDA cited El Abuelito for food safety violations and issued a warning letter to the company after they were not sufficiently addressed. The violations included lack of preventive controls for Listeria, lack of testing for Listeria – a known risk in the manufacture of dairy foods, and the presence of non-pathogenic species of Listeria indicating that the environment in the facility was conducive to the growth of all species of Listeria.
A recent study by CDC researchers found that unsanitary conditions were a common thread in all Listeria outbreaks linked to pasteurized Hispanic-style soft cheeses.
Listeria Outbreak Investigation
Symptoms of a Listeria infection include headache, stiff neck, muscle aches, loss of balance, confusion, and convulsions. Sometimes those symptoms are preceded by typical food poisoning symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. These symptoms usually appear within two weeks of exposure but sometimes can take as long as 70 days to develop.
This outbreak includes illnesses from Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Virginia. The people sickened reported eating soft, Hispanic-style cheeses such as queso blanco, queso panela and queso fresco.
Experienced Listeria Lawyers
If you were sickened by contaminated cheese and would like to discuss your legal options, contact our Listeria lawyers for a free consultation. Call 1 (888) 377-8900, send a text to 612-261-0856. Or, complete the form below. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.