Four people in New York are part of a four-state queso fresco Listeria outbreak, 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. This is of special concern because 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 two women or a mother and a baby.
Health officials have identified queso fresco made by El Abuelito of Paterson, NJ as the source of this outbreak. Last week, the company halted all production and distribution of products and issued a recall for queso fresco sold under three brand names – El Abuelito, Rio Lindo, and Rio Grande. Last night, with its on-site inspection of the company’s facility underway, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revised its consumer warning to say that due to potential Listeria contamination all El Abuelito brand products should be avoided at this time.
El Abuelito brand products 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 cheeses and sour creams were distributed to stores in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. In addition to the four illnesses reported in New York, Maryland has reported four illnesses, and Connecticut and Virginia have each reported one. 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 two months to develop. These symptoms include high fever, severe headache, muscle stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain, diarrhea, loss of balance, and convulsions. If you ate any of the recalled products made by El Abuelito and are experiencing these symptoms, please see a doctor right away.
Last year, El Abuelito was warned by the FDA that it had failed to address serious food safety violations discovered during an FDA inspection. 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, according to a June 2020 warning letter the FDA sent to the company.
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.