July 22, 2024

Listeria in Queseria Bendita Cheese Sickens 3, Kills 1 in Washington

Listeria in Queseria Bendita cheese has sickened three people in Washington, killing one of them.

A recall has been issued for the cheese made at the company’s plant in Yakima, Washington. Consumers who have purchased this cheese should not eat it as they risk serious, life-threatening illness if they do.

queseria-bendita-listeriaWashington State health and agriculture officials are working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on an ongoing investigation of the outbreak. Queseria Bendita has suspended production of cheese.

The recalled products are:  Queso Fresco, Panela, Requeson, Cotija fresh soft cheese products and Sour Cream. They were distributed to Hispanic grocery stores in Washington and Oregon and from the company’s its on-site store in Yakima.

The recalled products are packaged with clear plastic wrapper or plastic tub, and are stamp coded with the best by date up to 4/16/2015. The products are refrigerated and have the shelf life of up to 90 days.

The three cases reported as of January 16, 2015,  were identified in King, Pierce and Yakima counties. One illness was pregnancy-associated. Two people were hospitalized.

Eating food contaminated with Listeria causes an infection called listeriosis. Older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and those with weakened immune systems are at highest risk.

Symptoms of listeriosis often begin three weeks after infection, but can take anywhere from three to 70 days to develop. They include headache, stiff neck, fever, muscle aches, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. Listeriosis during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or stillbirth, premature delivery, or infection of the newborn.

An 11-state Listeria outbreak linked to caramel apples has put Listeria in the spotlight recently, but it is a rare bacteria. On average, fewer than 30 cases of listeriosis are reported in Washington each year.

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