Listeria Outbreak Linked to Queso Fresco Made by El Abuelito Cheese Inc.

Illustration with a triangle and exclamation mark and text reading Food Safety Alert

Posted March 1, 2021

Fast Facts
  • Illnesses: 11
  • Hospitalizations: 10
  • Deaths: 1
  • States: 4
  • Recall: Yes
  • Investigation status: Active
Photo of soft cheese on a cutting board

Queso fresco

El Abuelito queso fresco

El Abuelito queso fresco

Recalled Food

On February 27, El Abuelito Cheese Inc. recalled quesillo and requeson cheesesexternal icon, in addition to the previously recalled queso fresco cheesesexternal icon. These cheeses were made or packed at the same facility as the contaminated queso fresco.

Queso Fresco with sell-buy dates through 03/28/21
  • Brand names: El Abuelito, Rio Grande, Rio Lindo
  • The El Abuelito brand 5-lb product may be repacked by stores and sold without a brand label or labeled with a different brand.
Quesillo (Oaxaca, string cheese) with sell-buy dates through 04/16/21
  • Brand names: El Abuelito, El Viejito, El Paisano, El Sabrosito, La Cima, Quesos Finos, San Carlos, Ideal
  • Many of the quesillo products were sold in bulk (5-14 lb bags). These products may be repacked by stores and sold without a brand label or labeled with a different brand.
Requeson (ricotta) with sell-buy dates through 03/14/21
  • Brand names: El Abuelito, El Viejito
  • These products were sold in 12-oz clamshell containers.
What You Should Do
  • Do not eat recalled queso fresco, quesillo, or requeson cheeses. Throw them away or return them to where you bought them.
  • Check with the store or deli counter to make sure any other queso fresco or quesillo cheese you buy or have at home is not supplied by the recalled brands. If they do not know the supplier, do not buy it. Throw away any cheese you bought from them.
  • Follow these five steps to clean your refrigerator, containers, and surfaces that may have touched the cheeses. Listeria can survive in the refrigerator and can easily spread to other foods and surfaces.
  • Call your healthcare provider right away if you have these symptoms after eating queso fresco, quesillo, or requeson cheeses:
    • Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
    • People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.
What Businesses Should Do
Symptoms of Listeria
  • Listeria can cause severe illness (known as invasive listeriosis) when the bacteria spread beyond the gut to other parts of the body.
    • Pregnant people, adults 65 years or older, and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for severe illness.
    • Pregnant people typically experience only fever, fatigue, and muscle aches. However, Listeria infection during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.
    • People who are not pregnant may experience headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions, in addition to fever and muscle aches.
    • Symptoms of severe illness usually start 1 to 4 weeks after eating food contaminated with Listeria, but may start as early as the same day or as late as 70 days after.
  • Listeria can also cause common food poisoning symptoms, like diarrhea and fever. People who experience these symptoms usually recover without treatment.
  • For more information about Listeria, see the Listeria Questions and Answers page.