El Abuelito Expands Recall to Include Queso Fresco, Quesillo, and Requeson Products Because of Possible Health Risk
El Abuelito Cheese of Paterson, NJ is recalling all Queso Fresco (Fresh, soft cheese), Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) products, because it has the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria monocytogenes infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.
All Queso Fresco products with sell by dates through 032821; all Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese) products with sell by dates through 041621; and all Requeson (Ricotta) products with sell by dates through 031421 have been recalled. The products are sold as El Abuelito Cheese brand, distributed in CT, NJ, PA, NY; Rio Grande Food Products brand, distributed in VA, NC, MD; Rio Lindo distributed in NC and MD and Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, and Ideal Brands.
The products were distributed through Feb 16, 2021 and were available in supermarkets, wholesale, and retails stores.
The following products being recalled were produced at Plant #34-12179 in the following form. Retailers may have repackaged the bulk Quesillo into smaller containers and sold this repackage product to consumers. This repackaged product may not bear the original labeling and product information as described below.
As of February 27, 2021, the CDC reports ten people infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes from four states.
El Abuelito has ceased the production and distribution of the product as FDA and El Abuelito continue their investigation as to what caused the problem.
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.
Consumers who have purchased the stated Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) products are urged not to consume and to return product to the place of purchase for a full refund. FDA recommends that anyone who purchased or received any El Abuelito brand Quesillo, Requeson, or recalled Queso Fresco cheeses 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. Consumers with questions may contact El Abuelito Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST at (973) 345-3503.
RETAIL DISTRIBUTION FOR El ABUELITO BRAND QUESO FRESCO, REQUESON, AND QUESILLO PRODUCTS
FDA has reason to believe that the following retail locations received the El Abuelito Brand Queso Fresco (Fresh, soft cheese) , Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), and Requeson (Ricotta) that were included in the recall by El Abuelito. These cheese products may have been cut or repacked from their original packaging. This list may not include all retail establishments that have received the recalled product or may include retail establishments that did not actually receive the recalled product. Therefore, it is important that you use the product-specific identification information, available here, in addition to this list of retail stores, when you check the food you have to see if it has been recalled.