The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, investigated a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes infections linked to queso fresco cheeses made by El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. On 5/14/2021, the CDC announced that this outbreak is over.
Recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), or Requeson (ricotta) cheeses are past shelf life and should no longer be available.
FDA recommends that anyone who received recalled products 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.
People who are pregnant, are age 65 or over, or have a weakened immune system should not eat any soft cheeses unless they are made with pasteurized milk. Consumers at higher risk for Listeria illness should be aware that although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated and have caused Listeria outbreaks, including this one.
On 2/19/2021, El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. announced their initial recall of products, and on 2/27/2021, they announced the expansion of their recall to cover additional products. The recall announcements include the full product list and descriptions.
Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve any recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese), or Requeson (ricotta) cheeses.
The firm’s recall does not include any additional products with the El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. label because they are not manufactured or handled in the same facility; this includes El Abuelito Meat, Inc., panela cheese, cotija cheese, mole, crema centroamericana, and crema mexicana. Updates will be provided as they become available.
FDA has posted lists of retailers that may have received Hispanic-styles cheeses from the El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. facility in Paterson N.J. It is possible that these lists may not include all retailers who have received these cheeses; however, these lists represents the best information currently available to the FDA.
- Retail Establishments that Received El Abuelito Brand Queso Fresco, Quesillo, and Requeson Products
- Retail Establishments that Received Private Label Brand Queso Fresco (Rio Grande, Rio Lindo), Quesillo (El Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, Ideal Brands), and Requeson Products (El Viejito)
Map of U.S. Distribution of Recalled Queso Fresco, Quesillo, and Requeson Cheeses
Case Count Map Provided by CDC
Total Illnesses: 13
Last Illness Date: 3/17/2021
States with Cases: CT (1), MD (5), NY (4), and VA (3)
Product Distribution*: AL, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, NE, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, WI
*States with confirmed distribution; product could have been distributed further
- Food Safety Tips for Retailers and Consumers During an Outbreak
- Food Safety Resources for Produce Shippers and Carriers During a Foodborne Illness Outbreak
- Who to Contact
- What is Listeria?
- CDC’s Outbreak Page
- El Abuelito Recalls Queso Fresco Products Because of Possible Health Risk (Spanish)
- El Abuelito Expands Recall to Include Queso Fresco, Quesillo, and Requeson Products Because of Possible Health Risk