El Abuelito Cheese Inc. Expands Recall Due to Listeria Contamination
On February 19, 2021, El Abuelito Inc. of Paterson, NJ, announced a recall on all their fresh cheese products (queso, fresco, and soft) due to a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes. On February 26, 2021, J&J Distributing (a New Harvest Foods Company) announced a nationwide recall on a slew of their taco products in connection with the El Abuelito listeria contamination. The full list of J&J recalled taco products can be found here. On February 27, 2021, El Abuelito Cheese company expanded the original recall to include Queso Fresco (Fresh, soft cheese), Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) products, as these products were potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes as well. The updated list of recalled products and their identification can be found here.
Listeria is a type of bacteria which can cause a moderate to severe gastrointestinal illness known as Listeriosis. In healthy individuals, Listeriosis typically manifests itself in short-term symptoms such as a fever, headache, muscle aches, stiffness, nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. However, those who are frail, elderly, or have previously weakened immune systems are most at risk for serious onset of Listeriosis. Listeriosis can also cause miscarriage and stillbirths in expectant mothers.
The contamination was first detected when a person became ill after purchasing and consuming cheese products from El Abuelito Cheese Inc. The Connecticut Department of Public Health collected various samples of El Abuelito Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from the store where the sick person had purchased cheese products and sent them to the laboratory for genome sequence testing. The samples returned on February 19, 2021, showing Listeria monocytogenes which matched the sequence of the outbreak strain. El Abuelito Cheese Inc., as well as the FDA and CDC, urge consumers who have purchased cheese any products from El Abuelito to discard them immediately and thoroughly sanitize any surfaces which they may have come into contact with.
The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that as of March 1, 2021, there have been 11 cases of illness, 10 hospitalizations, and 1 death, due to the El Abuelito Cheese Inc. Listeria outbreak. To find more information regarding the recalled products or updates regarding the current investigation of this outbreak, visit the FDA’s Recalls, Market Withdrawals, and Safety Alerts page.