FDA and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) infections that may be linked to certain fresh and soft cheeses.
CDC reports that seven people have been infected with the outbreak strain of Lm in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Of four infected people interviewed by CDC, three report eating at least one type of Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses, and each of these three reported eating queso fresco, the agency says.
As part of this outbreak investigation, the Connecticut Department of Public Health collected product samples of El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from a store where a sick person bought cheeses. FDA says that an analysis showed the presence of Lm in samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco sold in 10 oz packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of February 26, 2021. On February 19, whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis conducted by the Connecticut State Laboratory determined that the Listeria monocytogenes found in the samples is a match to the outbreak strain.
El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. of Paterson, N.J. has now recalled all queso fresco products with “sell by” dates through March 28, 2021. The products include El Abuelito, Rio Grande, and Rio Lindo brand queso frescos, distributed in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
At press time, El Abuelito Cheese has ceased production and distribution of all products.