U.S. Listeria Outbreak Update: CDC Warns to Avoid All Cheese Sold Under the Brand Name El Abuelito

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.

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.

On 2/19/2021, 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.

On 2/19/2021, El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. of Paterson, NJ recalled all Queso Fresco products with “sell by” dates through 03/28/21.

Products include El Abuelito, Rio Grande, and Rio Lindo brand queso frescos, distributed to CT, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, and VA. A full list of recalled products is included below. At this time, El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. has ceased production and distribution of all products.

Out of an abundance of caution, and due to the severity of Listeria infection, the FDA is expanding its warning to include all El Abuelito brand cheeses until more information is known. According to the firm’s website this includes queso fresco, Oaxaca cheese, cotija cheese, and crema. The FDA is working with the firm to recall any additional products that could be contaminated and has initiated an on-site inspection of the facility.

The FDA recommends that anyone who purchased or received any El Abuelito brand cheeses or recalled products 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

Updates will be provided as they become available.


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