Outbreak Investigation of Listeria monocytogenes – Hispanic-style Fresh and Soft Cheeses (February 2021)
Do not eat, sell, or serve recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese) or Requeson (ricotta) cheeses.
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.
On 2/19/2021, El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. announced their initial recall of products, and on 2/27/2021, they announced the expansion of their recall to cover additional products that are manufactured or handled in the same facility as the Queso Fresco products linked to this outbreak.
On 3/9/2021, the FDA received confirmation that recalled cheeses were also distributed to Rhode Island. States with confirmed distribution now include: AL, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, NE, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, and WI. View additional recall information.
Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve any recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), or Requeson (ricotta) cheeses.
Recalled brands by cheese type include:
- Queso Fresco: El Abuelito, Rio Grande, Rio Lindo
- Quesillo: El Abuelito, El Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, Ideal Brands
- Requeson: El Abuelito, El Viejito
FDA recommends that anyone who purchased or received any recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo, or Requeson cheeses use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. Listeria can survive in refrigerated temperatures and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
Some of the recalled cheeses were sold in bulk quantities and could have been repackaged by retailers. Ask your retailer if any Queso Fresco or Quesillo cheese you buy was repackaged from the cheeses recalled by El Abuelito. If you are unable to obtain an answer, do not buy it and throw away the potentially recalled cheese you have at home.
If you are at higher risk for severe Listeria infection (if you are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have a weakened immune system due to certain medical conditions or treatments), call your healthcare provider right away if you have these symptoms after eating any Queso Fresco, Quesillo, or Requeson cheeses produced by El Abuelito:
- Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
- People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.
Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator, containers, and surfaces that may have touched the cheeses. Listeria can survive in the refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.