April 13, 2021

Connecticut Warns of Listeria in El Abuelito Queso Fresco Cheese; One Ill

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is warning consumers that there is Listeria in El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese. Laboratory testing found the pathogen in one lot of that cheese that was collected from a Connecticut retail food store last week. One Connecticut resident is sick after allegedly eating that brand.

Connecticut Warns Listeria in El Abuelito Queso Fresco Cheese; One Ill

There is a multistate Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that is linked to Hispanic-style soft and fresh cheeses that the FDA and CDC announced late last week. Seven people in four states are sick in that outbreak; one of the patients lives in Connecticut. The others live in Maryland (4), New York (1), and Virginia (1).

Connecticut Department of Health officials are advising consumers not to eat any El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese until further notice. And also warns that all immune-compromised people and others at high risk for listeriosis infections, including pregnant women, young children, and the elderly, should avoid all Hispanic fresh and soft cheeses. The CDC echoes this advice.

The cheese comes from El Abuelito, a cheese manufacturer in Paterson, New Jersey, and is sold as a fresh 10-ounce item packaged in a plastic container. A sticker on the product has the lot number A027 and a date of February 26, 2021.

This product may still be in consumers’ refrigerators. Officials are asking consumers to check any queso fresco cheese they may have in their homes to see if it is this product. Officials do not know if other lot numbers of this product are contaminated. But because of the seriousness of the potential illness, and the Listeria in El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese, DPH is telling consumers to completely avoid that cheese for now.

If you do have this cheese in your fridge, throw it away immediately after first double bagging it. Clean your refrigerator with a mild bleach solution to kill any remaining pathogens. And wash your hands well with soap and water after handling the cheese.

If you ate any of this cheese, watch yourself for the symptoms of listeriosis for the next 70 days. It can take that long for the illness to manifest. Symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Pregnant women have different symptoms that mimic the flu, but this infection can cause premature labor, stillbirth, and miscarriage. If you do feel sick, call your doctor.

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