April 11, 2021

El Abuelito Is Recalling Queso Fresco For Possible Listeria Contamination

El Abuelito is recalling Queso Fresco cheese products because of possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. There is a current ongoing multistate Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that has sickened seven people in four states that the FDA and CDC say is linked to Hispanic style soft and fresh cheese.

El Abuelito Is Recalling Queso Fresco For Possible Listeria Contamination

All El Abuelito Queso Fresco products with sell by dates through March 28, 2021 (032821) have been recalled. The products are sold as El Abuelito Cheese brand, which was distributed in Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York; Rio Grande Food Products brand, which was sold in Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland; and Rio Lindo brand, which was distributed in North Carolina and Maryland. The products were distributed through February 16, 2021 and were available in supermarkets, wholesale, and retail stores.

You can see the long list of recalled products at the FDA web site. All of the recalled cheeses were produced at Plant #34-12179 in these forms: El Abuelito Cheese brands Queso Fresco Regular, Queso Fresco Promoción, Queso Fresco de Hoja, and Queso Fresco Guatemala. The Rio Grande Food Products brands include Chirilagua Queso de Hacienda, Queso Fresco Campestre con Hoja, Queso Fresco Campestre Artesanal, Queso Fresco con Hoja, Queso Fresco Yorito, Queso Fresco Olancho, Cuajada Fresca Guatemalteca, Cuajada Fresca Hondureña, and Cuajada Fresca Salvadoreña. And the recalled Rio Lindo brands include Queso Fresco Mexicano, Queso Fresco Queso Fresco Hondureño, and Queso Fresco Salvadoreño. The package sizes and UPC numbers of these products are at the FDA site, along with pictures of product labels.

Since El Abuelito is recalling queso fresco cheeses, the company has stopped the production and distribution of the product. The FDA and the company are investigating the problem.

The recall notice states, “Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco sold in 10 oz packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of 02/26/2021. Samples are currently undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples is a match to the outbreak strain. At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.” The FDA outbreak investigation notice posted on February 19, 2021 states, “The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to queso fresco cheeses made by El Abuelito Cheese, Inc.”

If you purchased any of those cheeses with the UPC numbers and package sizes listed by the FDA, do not eat them. The FDA says you should return the cheese to the place of purchase for a refund.

Clean out your refrigerator with a solution of one tablespoon liquid chlorine bleach to one gallon of warm water after you dispose of the cheese, since Listeria monocytogenes bacteria can grow at refrigerator temperatures. And wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

If you ate any of these recalled products, monitor your health for the symptoms of listeriosis, which can take 70 days to manifest. Those symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, severe headache, muscle aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Pregnant women need to be very careful about this illness because it can cause miscarriage and stillbirth. Symptoms in pregnant women are mild and can mimic the flu.

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