CDC warn of listeria outbreak in cheese sold at Whole Foods as 2 Americans die and 23 are hospitalized across 11 states

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is warning Americans of a listeria outbreak linked to dairy products sold nationwide that has killed two people. 

Investigators said contaminated cheese, crema, and yogurt made by Rizo-Lopez Foods have been voluntarily recalled due to the potentially lethal infection, listeria.

The products are sold in a number of major chain supermarkets, including Food City and Whole Foods. 

The CDC states that 26 Americans have been sickened and 23 have been hospitalized in 11 states. Two deaths have been reported – one in California and one in Texas.

The body is recalling 61 products including cheese, yogurt, and sour cream (crema)  sold under 13 brand names – including 365 Whole Foods Market and Food City.

The items of concern were sold between June 2014 to December 2023. 

Several of the products recalled due to possible listeria contamination

Americans from 11 states have been sickened, and two have died. The deaths occurred in California and Texas

Americans from 11 states have been sickened, and two have died. The deaths occurred in California and Texas

The agency urged people to throw out any affected products, clean your refrigerator and surfaces, and call a health care provider right away if you suffer any symptoms.

Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, tiredness, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, or seizures. 

The CDC collected asked people who were sickened about the foods they had eaten within a month of becoming ill, though not all patients were surveyed. The agency states that it is still conducting interviews.

Of the 22 patients who were interviews, 16 – 73 percent – reported eating queso fresco, cotija, or other similar cheeses. 

Patients ranged from under one year old to 88 years old, and the average age was 52.

About 58 percent of those sickened were female and 42 percent were male. 

The majority of those affected (71 percent) were white. Five percent were Native American or Alaska Native, and 24 percent reported another race.

Additionally, 85 percent reported being Hispanic. 

Among those who remembered the specific brands, three who were sickened between 2014 and 2022 reported the cheese brand Don Francisco.  

The CDC found that illnesses were reported between June 2014 and December 2023

The CDC found that illnesses were reported between June 2014 and December 2023

Cojita and queso fresco were two of the most common products affected by the outbreak (file photo)

Cojita and queso fresco were two of the most common products affected by the outbreak (file photo)

The agency also took DNA fingerprint samples of bacteria in a process known as whole genome sequencing (WGS).

WGS showed that bacteria from the sick patients’ sampls were closely genetically related, suggesting that people who were affected by the outbreak got sick from the same foods. 

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted investigations at Rizo-Lopez’s facility and collected samples. 

They found the outbreak strain of listeria on a container where cheeses are kept before being packaged. 

Listeria is an infection normally caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium listeria monocytogenes. 

Most people who eat food contaminated with Listeria will not fall seriously ill. But in some cases, it can cause confusion and seizures, miscarriage in pregnant women, and even death.

This can happen when the infection spreads beyond the gut and can affect the central nervous system, which can lead to numbness and seizures. 

The CDC estimates that 1,600 Americans become infected with listeria every year, and about 260 die.  

Products recalled due to listeria contamination 
Product Name  Brand 
Blanco Suave Tio Francisco 
Cotija  Food City 
Cotija  Rizo Bros 
Cotija  San Carlos 
Cotija  Tio Francisco 
Cotija (Grated)  Casa Cardenas 
Cotija (Grated)  Rizo Bros 
Cotija (Grated)  Tio Francisco 
Cotija Enchilado  Casa Cardenas 
Cotija Enchilado  Food City 
Cotija Enchilado  Tio Francisco 
Cotija Rallado  Tio Francisco 
Crema Centroamericana  Campesino 
Crema Centroamericana  Tio Francisco 
Crema La Deliciosa  Tio Francisco 
Crema La Suprema  Tio Francisco 
Crema Latina  Tio Francisco 
Crema Latina  Tio Francisco 
Crema Menonita  Campesino 
Crema Mexicana  Campesino 
Crema Mexicana  Food City 
Crema Mexicana  San Carlos 
Crema Mexicana  Santa Maria 
Crema Mexicana  Tio Francisco 
Crema Nortena  Tio Francisco 
Crema Santa Isabel Centroamericana  (No brand name) 
Crema Santa Isabel Latina  (No brand name) 
Crema Santa Isabel Mexicana  (No brand name) 
Fresco  San Carlos 
Fresco  Tio Francisco 
Fresco (Michoacano)  El Huache 
Fresco (Michoacano)  La Ordena 
Fresco (Michoacano)  Tio Francisco 
Oaxaca  Food City 
Oaxaca  Rizo Bros 
Oaxaca  San Carlos 
Oaxaca  Tio Francisco 
Oaxaca (Shredded)  Tio Francisco 
Panela  Campesino 
Panela  Dos Ranchitos 
Panela  Food City 
Panela  La Ordena 
Panela  San Carlos 
Panela  Tio Francisco 
Panela Barra  Tio Francisco 
Queso Crema  Food City 
Queso Crema  San Carlos 
Queso Fresco  Campesino 
Queso Fresco  Don Francisco 
Queso Fresco  Dos Ranchitos 
Queso Fresco  Food City 
Queso Fresco  Rio Grande 
Queso Fresco  Rizo Bros 
Queso Fresco  San Carlos 
Queso Fresco  Santa Maria 
Queso Fresco  Tio Francisco 
Queso Para Freir  Tio Francisco 
Queso Seco  Tio Francisco 
Requeson  Tio Francisco 
Ricotta (Whole or Part Skim Milk)  365 Whole Foods Market 
Yogurt (Plain, Strawberry, Peach & Mango)  Tio Francisco 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)

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