FDA Details Listeria Outbreak in Hispanic Cheese

Samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco have tested positive, but a link to the outbreak hasn't been confirmed yet.

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The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections potentially linked to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses.

FDA has initiated an investigation and is collecting information to try to determine the source of the outbreak. Although the investigation is ongoing, CDC’s analysis of epidemiologic information indicates that Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses are the leading hypotheses for the cause of the illnesses. No specific type or brand of cheese has been confirmed as the source of illness. CDC reported that seven people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported in Connecticut, Maryland, New York and Virginia. Six of the seven ill people are Hispanic. Of the four people interviewed, three reported eating at least one type of Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses, and each of the three reported eating queso fresco.

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. Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco sold in 10 oz packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of 02/26/2021. Samples are currently undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples is a match to the outbreak strain. At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.

FDA and state partners are working with the firm to recall the affected lot and to determine if additional products should be recalled. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese until more information is known.   

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