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Deadly listeria outbreak linked to queso fresco, other dairy products

The CDC said 26 people across multiple states have been sickened after consuming the products, with most requiring hospitalization.
Deadly listeria outbreak linked to queso fresco, other dairy products
Posted at 1:18 PM, Feb 06, 2024

Several dairy products, including queso fresco and cotija cheese, have been recalled after a possible listeria contamination that may be linked to two deaths and multiple hospitalizations, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. 

Rizo-López Foods, Inc. voluntarily issued the recall for all of its dairy products, which were primarily sold at deli counters in El Super, Cardenas Market, Northgate Gonzalez, Superior Groceries, El Rancho, Vallarta, Food City, La Michoacana and Numero Uno Markets.

Cheese, yogurt and sour cream (crema) sold under the brand names Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, Rizo Bros, Rio Grande, Food City, El Huache, La Ordena, San Carlos, Campesino, Santa Maria, Dos Ranchitos, Casa Cardenas, and 365 Whole Foods Market are part of the nationwide recall. 

Click here to view the full list of products and corresponding images. 

Consumers should check their refrigerators and freezers for any of the products listed and get rid of them. Since listeria can survive in the refrigerator and easily spread to other foods and surfaces, make sure you thoroughly clean any surface the contaminated product touched.

Listeria symptoms usually start within two weeks after eating contaminated food, but they may start as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks after. Mild symptoms may include a fever, muscle aches, nausea, tiredness, vomiting and diarrhea.

More severe cases may include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.  

The CDC said 26 people who consumed the products have been sickened so far, with most requiring hospitalization. Two deaths, in California and in Texas, were also reported in connection to the contaminated products. 

The Food and Drug Administration said cases connected to the listeria outbreak date back to 2014. 

This outbreak was investigated twice before by the CDC, in 2017 and 2021, but there was not enough data to identify a source until this most recent investigation, the agency said. 

A sample of “Rizo Bros Aged Cotija” tested positive for listeria during sampling conducted by the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch last month, prompting the CDC and FDA to reopen the investigation. 

The FDA is currently conducting an onsite inspection of Rizo-López Foods, Inc., which is located in Modesto, California. 

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