July 11, 2020

Roos Listeria Outbreak in Maryland Only the Latest From Queso

Cheese Listeria outbreaks, including the FDA’s ongoing legal case against Roos Foods for food poisoning in Maryland and California, have resulted in six U.S. deaths in the past 18 months and 35 hospitalizations, federal food safety reports indicate.

Cheese Listera LawyerThe trend, in which three out of the past four national Listeria outbreaks have been linked to soft cheeses, provides public health agencies further confirmation that Mexican style cheese and other soft cheese products are foods to avoid if you are pregnant or in any other well-defined group at higher risk for contracting Listeriosis. The CDC said two mothers and three newborns are among those injured in the Listeria outbreak that the government has linked to Delaware-based Roos Foods, maker of brands like Mexicana and Santa Rosa de Lima. A California Listeria death  resulted from the outbreak, along with seven hospitalizations in Maryland.

According to Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Silk of the CDC, Listeria food poisoning causes an average of 260 deaths in the United States each year, making it the third most fatal type of foodborne illness. Listeriosis is rare but deadly, Silk said, killing approximately 18 percent of the people who become infected. When listing types of foods that have been associated with Listeria outbreaks, Silk first listed soft cheese. He said Mexican style cheese was the cause of a 1985 Listeria outbreak that stands as the second-deadliest foodborne illness outbreak since 1924. Part of what makes the bacterium so dangerous is that it can multiply even when foods contaminated with it are sitting in the refrigerator, Silk said.

In the Roos Foods outbreak, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg intervened one month ago to suspend distribution of dairy products by the company after investigators for the agency found deplorable food safety conditions, widespread Listeria contramination and violations of food safety laws inside the Roos dairy products plant.
“Soft cheeses manufactured by Roos have been identified by FDA and CDC as a likely source of this outbreak,” Hamburg wrote in her letter to Roos on March 11, 2014.

The CDC said all confirmed patients in the Roos Cheese outbreak — whom legal experts say could easily be established as possible claimants in a Listeria lawsuit against the company — are of Hispanic ethnicity.

Litigation stemmed from the two previous cheese Listeria national outbreaks. One of those was associated with Crave Brothers cheese made in Wisconsin. A Minnesota consumer of the cheese died and six other people were hospitalized in that outbreak, which also resulted in FDA action against the producer.

In late 2012, Frescolina Marte Brand Ricotta Salata Cheese was linked by authorities to the largest of the three most recent outbreaks. In the Frescolina outbreak, 20 people were hospitalized and four people died.

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