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Press Releases

02/19/2021

DPH Warns of Contaminated Cheese, Cites Recall of Queso Fresco Varieties

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) continues to warn consumers, restaurants, and retailers not to eat, serve or sell El Abuelito and related brand Queso Fresco cheese, due to laboratory findings that confirm the product is the source of a multistate outbreak of foodborne bacteria called listeria monocytogenes.

DPH officials said that ‘whole genome sequencing’ analysis by the Connecticut State Laboratory confirmed listeria found in the cheese samples collected last week genetically matches listeria found in cases in four states.

El Abuelito is a cheese manufacturer in Paterson, N.J., that produces cheese both under its own label and additional private brands.  The company is currently working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and has issued a recall of all Queso Fresco cheese produced by the firm, which includes both the company brand and the private labels, such as Rio Grande and Rio Lindo.  All cheeses from El Abuelito, Rio Grande and Rio Lindo should not be sold, served or consumed.

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, pregnant women and others with weakened immune systems.  Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, listeria infection can cause miscarriages, stillbirths and fetal infection among pregnant women.  Because these products may still be in consumer’s refrigerators, DPH encourages consumers to check any Queso Fresco cheese they may have to determine if it included in this recall.  Customers and food establishments who still have the product should not consume or serve it and should discard it immediately.

According to FDA, seven people have been hospitalized; 4 in Maryland, 1 in Connecticut, 1 in New York and 1 in Virginia.

Restaurants and retailers that serve or sell Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses should follow FDA’s safe handling and cleaning advice.

Products included in the recall are: All Queso Fresco products with sell by dates through 032821, have been recalled.  The products are sold as El Abuelito Cheese brand, distributed in CT, NJ, PA, NY;  Rio Grande Food Products brand, distributed in VA, NC, MD; and Rio Lindo brand, distributed in NC and MD.  The products were distributed through Feb 16, 2021, and were available in supermarkets, wholesale and retail stores.

The following products being recalled were produced at Plant #34-12179 in the following forms

Brand

Product Name

Size

Container Type

UPC Code

El Abuelito Cheese

Queso Fresco Regular

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100003

 

Queso Fresco Promoción

10 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100078

 

Queso Fresco de Hoja

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100065

 

Queso Fresco

5 Lb.

Vacuum Packed

673130100058

 

Queso Fresco Guatemala

12 oz.

Plastic Container

673130100027

Rio Grande Food Products, Inc.

Chirilagua Queso de Hacienda

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529005571

 

Queso Fresco Campestre con Hoja

14 oz.

Plastic Container

812324031161

 

Queso Fresco Campestre Artesanal

14 oz.

Plastic Container

738529002518

 

Queso Fresco con Hoja

14 oz.

Plastic Container

738529004581

 

Queso Fresco Yorito

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529005564

 

Queso Fresco Olancho

14 oz.

Plastic Container

812324031222

 

Cuajada Fresca Guatemalteca

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001276

 

Cuajada Fresca Hondureña

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001269

 

Cuajada Fresca Salvadoreña

12 oz.

Plastic Container

738529001252

Rio Lindo

Queso Fresco Mexicano

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088587

 

Queso Fresco Hondureño

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088591

 

Queso Fresco Salvadoreño

12 oz.

Plastic Container

718122088607


Please visit the FDA website at www.fda.gov/food/outbreaks-foodborne-illness/outbreak-investigation-listeria-monocytogenes-hispanic-style-fresh-and-soft-cheeses-february-2021 for case counts and additional information.

 

 Images of Recalled Product Labels

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