Listeria Outbreak Prompts Nationwide Recall of Dairy Products

A nationwide recall of various dairy products has been issued by Rizo-López Foods, Inc. after an investigation linked them to a listeria outbreak that has sickened 26 people, hospitalized 23, and caused two deaths in 11 states.

What is Listeria and How Does It Affect People?

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause a serious infection called listeriosis, especially in people who are pregnant, aged 65 or older, or have weakened immune systems. Listeria can spread beyond the gut to other parts of the body, resulting in severe complications such as pregnancy loss, premature birth, meningitis, or death.

Symptoms of listeriosis usually start within two weeks after eating food contaminated with listeria, but may start as early as the same day or as late as 10 weeks after. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, tiredness, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or seizures.

What Products Are Recalled and Why?

Rizo-López Foods, a company based in Modesto, California, announced on February 6, 2024, that it was recalling all cheeses and other dairy products made in its facility, because they have the potential to be contaminated with listeria. The recall was made with the knowledge of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The recalled products were sold nationwide under the following brands and at deli counters: Campesino, Casa Cardenas, Don Francisco, Dos Ranchitos, El Huache, Food City, La Ordena, Rio Grande, Rizo Bros, San Carlos, Santa Maria, Tio Francisco and 365 Whole Foods Market. The products have a wide range of sell by dates between March 23 and July 31, 2024. A full list of recalled products with additional descriptions, UPC codes, sizes and specific sell-by dates can be found here.

Listeria Outbreak Prompts

The recall was triggered by the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has been investigating a multistate outbreak of listeria that has been ongoing since 2014. The CDC reported that 26 people had been infected with the outbreak strain of listeria from seven states, with another 23 people hospitalized, and two deaths in California and Texas.

The CDC said that it had identified queso fresco and other similar cheeses as a potential source of the outbreak in previous investigations, but there was not enough information to identify a specific brand. The CDC reopened the investigation in January 2024 after new illnesses were reported in December 2023 and the outbreak strain was found in a cheese sample from Rizo-López Foods.

What Should Consumers and Businesses Do?

The CDC and the FDA advised consumers and businesses not to eat, sell, or serve any recalled cheeses or dairy products. They also recommended that consumers and businesses should clean the refrigerator, containers, and surfaces that may have touched the recalled products, as listeria can survive in the refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.

Consumers who have any of the recalled products should throw them away or return them to where they bought them. Consumers who have symptoms of listeriosis after eating recalled products should seek medical attention immediately. Consumers with questions may contact Rizo-López Foods at 1-833-296-2233, which will be monitored 24 hours a day.

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