Cheese Recall Expanded to Include 15 More Products After Listeria Outbreak
The manufacturer halted production while health officials investigate.
In late February, New Jersey dairy manufacturer El Abuelito Cheese halted production and recalled 17 of its soft cheeses while the FDA, CDC, and local health authorities investigated a listeria outbreak that officials believe is linked to the products.
Now, that recall has expanded to include all El Abuelito Cheese products, not just soft cheeses. That totals to more than 30 products—soft cheeses, Oaxacan cheeses, and ricottas—some of which won't immediately be identifiable as El Abuelito products.
The recalled cheeses have been distributed in at least seven states under several brand names. If you've recently purchased soft cheese in Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, or Virginia, you should check your fridge.
Recalled Queso Frescos
Any queso frescos, or soft cheeses, from the El Abuelito Cheese, Rio Grande, or Rio Lindo brands with a "sell by" date through March 28, 2021 should be returned to the place of purchase for a full refund. You can find the full list of the affected soft cheeses on the FDA's website.
The recalled Quesillo cheeses, also known as Oaxacan and string cheeses, are sold under many different brand names. If you have a Quesillo cheese from El Abuelito Cheese, El Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, or Ideal, it should not be consumed—specifically products from those brands with a "sell by" date through April 16, 2021.
With Quesillos in particular, take extra caution if you're in one of the states that receives products from El Abuelito's manufacturing plant. "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," warns the FDA.
The recalled requeson products, also known as ricotta, are only distributed under two brand names: El Abuelito Cheese and El Viejito. Any ricotta cheeses with those labels, particularly ones with a "sell by" date through March 14, 2021, should not be consumed.
Signs of a Listeria Infection
Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, fatigue, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headaches, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions. People generally start feeling ill one to four weeks after eating the contaminated food, but it's possible for symptoms to arrive immediately or as late as 70 days after exposure.
What to Do if You're Affected by the Outbreak
If you think you've been infected, call your doctor to discuss next steps. Consumers with questions about the recall may contact El Abuelito directly at 973-345-3503. The line is open Monday through Friday from 8 am to 5 pm EST, and Saturday from 8 am to noon EST.