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Listeria Outbreak: More Cheese, Salad Kits and Other Dairy Products to Avoid

Products were sold at Trader Joe’s, Safeway, Walmart, among others

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An outbreak of listeria has been linked to a recall involving queso fresco, cotija cheese, salad kits, taco kits and other products containing ingredients manufactured by Rizo-López Foods, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Feb. 6.

Out of 26 infections reported, 23 people have been hospitalized and two deaths were reported.

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This outbreak was previously under investigation in 2017 and 2021, the CDC said. However, there was not enough data to identify the contaminated food source.

The agency said the true number of sick people in this outbreak may be higher than reported because it may take three to four weeks to determine whether a sick person is part of an outbreak, and some people recover without medical care.

Of the 22 infected people interviewed, 73 percent reported eating queso fresco, cotija or other similar cheeses.

The states with confirmed cases are Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington.

spinner image recalled cheeses from CDC due to listeria outbreak
Some of the recalled Cheeses

The recalled dairy products

Over 50 different dairy products were recalled — including blanco suave, cotija, crema, Oaxaca, panela, queso crema, queso fresco, queso para freír, queso seco, panela, requesón, ricotta, salad dressing, salad kits, taco kits, yogurt and other food products — from over 25 brands.

They were sold at retail deli counters including, but not limited to, Albertson’s (Safeway, Eagle, Pavilion), Costco, El Super, Cardenas Market, Norgate Gonzalez, Superior Groceries, En Rancho, Vallarta, Food City, La Michoacana, Numero Uno Markets, Walmart and Whole Foods.

They recalled brands are:

  • Albertson’s (Safeway, Eagle, Pavilion)
  • Campesino
  • Casa Cardenas
  • Costco
  • Dole
  • Don Francisco
  • Don Pancho
  • Dos Ranchitos
  • El Huache
  • Fresh & Ready, Sprig & Sprout, Jack & Olive
  • Fresh Express
  • Food City
  • HEB
  • La Ordena
  • Lucky
  • Marketside
  • President's Choice
  • Rio Grande
  • Rizo Bros
  • Rojo's
  • San Carlos
  • Santa Maria
  • Save Mart
  • Sprouts Farmers Market
  • Stater Bro’s
  • The Perfect Bite Co
  • Tio Francisco
  • Trader Joe’s
  • 365 Whole Foods Market

The recall announcement from the Food and Drug Administration includes a list of the recalled products, product codes and sell-by dates.

Anyone who purchased the recalled products should throw them out or return them to where they were purchased.

Listeria can persist in the refrigerator and potentially contaminate other surfaces. The CDC says it’s important to thoroughly clean not only the refrigerator but also any containers and surfaces that may have come into contact with the recalled products.

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Symptoms of a listeria infection

Listeriosis, the infection stemming from consuming food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes bacteria, poses a severe threat to people 65 and older. They are four times as likely to be infected, according to the CDC.

Symptoms associated with a listeria infection includes neck stiffness, confusion, loss of balance, convulsions, fever, muscle aches and fatigue.

Pregnant women usually experience only fever, fatigue and muscle aches. However, listeriosis can lead to pregnancy loss or premature birth, and can cause serious illness or death in newborns. Anyone who experiences symptoms of severe listeria illness should call their health care provider.

About 1,600 people in the U.S. get listeriosis each year, with an average of 260 deaths, the CDC estimates.

Editor's note: This story, originally published Feb. 6, 2024, has been updated to reflect the expanded recall.

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