The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are warning consumers to avoid El Abuelito Cheeses after a multistate listeria outbreak was tied to the company.
El Abuelito Cheese makes Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses. Originally, on Feb. 19, health officials only issued a warning about the company’s queso fresco, queso blanco and queso panela, but Wednesday expanded that order to include all El Abuelito products. That includes queso fresco, Oaxaca cheese, cotija cheese, and crema. The company also produces cheeses under the names Rio Grande and Rio Lindo.
According to the CDC, so far 10 people have fallen ill from the recalled cheese, all along the East Coast. Nine of those people had to be hospitalized.
The products were sold in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia, though the FDA said the contaminated products “could have been distributed further.”
El Abuelito Cheese has ceased production for now, but health officials say you should throw any remaining products you may have in the fridge. The FDA also recommends cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces in your refrigerator that may have come into contact with the contaminated products, since listeria can survive in cold temperatures and is easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
People who contract listeria can experience common food poisoning symptoms, like diarrhea and fever. Others might experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches. It’s especially dangerous for pregnant women, who might only experience fever, fatigue and muscle aches but listeria could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or life-threatening infection of the newborn.