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Outbreak Summary

OFT’s Listeria Lawyers are investigating a deadly outbreak of Listeria infections tied to Queso Fresco and possibly other cheese manufactured by El Abuelito, Inc. in Paterson, New Jersey. So far, 13 illnesses have been reported in four states: Connecticut, Maryland, New York, and Virginia. Twelve of the 13 known cases resulted in hospitalization, and one person has died.

On February 16th, the Connecticut Department of Public Health announced that Listeria monocytogenes had been found on Queso Fresco cheese sold by El Abuelito, Inc, a cheese manufacturer based in Paterson, New Jersey. Genetic sequencing results later confirmed that the strain of Listeria matches the strain found in sick people.

On February 19th, the FDA announced a recall of 17 El Abuelito Queso Fresco products distributed under the El Abuelito Cheese, Rio Lindo, and Rio Grande Food Products brands. The recall was later expanded to include Quesillo and Requeson products. A full list of the recalled cheeses is available at the FDA website.

As of May 14, 2021, the CDC has declared this outbreak to be over. But if you or a loved one became sick with a Listeria infection because of this outbreak, please contact us for a free consultation.

More Details

Deadly Listeria Outbreak Linked to El Abuelito Cheese

An outbreak of Listeria illnesses tied to Hispanic-style soft and fresh cheeses has killed one and sickened at least 13 people in four Eastern States:

The following products have been recalled:

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.

The recall impacts people living in the following states:

What is Listeria?

Listeriosis is a serious infection usually contracted from food contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes. Anyone can contract this bacterial infection, but pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and individuals with compromised immune systems are most at risk.

Listeriosis can be particularly dangerous for pregnant women, as it can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, or premature delivery. According to the CDC, Listeriosis causes a fetal loss in about 20% of cases. Newborns can also suffer a life-threatening infection. The CDC reports newborn death occurs in about 3% of cases. When a pregnant woman notices the symptoms of Listeriosis, it is important to seek medical care immediately to protect the pregnancy.

Individuals with weak immune systems and the elderly are more likely to develop severe infections in the bloodstream or brain, which can be fatal. Listeriosis can also affect other parts of the body, including the bones and joints.

Severe Listeriosis can be treated with antibiotics. Prompt treatment of severe symptoms is important and dramatically reduces the risk of more severe complications.

Common Symptoms of Listeria

Listeriosis symptoms can vary dramatically from person to person. In less serious cases, the infection may remain in the gut and cause flu-like symptoms. In some cases, however the Listeria bacteria will spread beyond the gut, This is known as invasive listeriosis. When Listeria spreads to the nervous system, individuals can experience:

  • Headache
  • Stiff neck
  • Confusion
  • Changes in alertness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Convulsions
  • Sensitivity to light

Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek medical care right away. These can be signs of bacterial meningitis, which can cause severe complications, disabilities, and death.

Contact us for more information

OFT Food Safety & Injury Lawyers is a national food safety law firm and offers free consultations to anybody potentially impacted by this outbreak. Listeria lawyers Ryan Osterholm and Brendan Flaherty have represented people sickened by Listeria throughout the country, and can your questions and help you pursue compensation.

Notable Recoveries

$10 million

Seven infants were sickened after consuming a contaminated food product marketed to infants

$6.5 million

Verdict on behalf of a little boy who contracted a severe Salmonella infection from chicken

$7.55 million

Verdict on behalf of a little girl who contracted E. coli at a petting zoo

$2.25 million

E. coli infections contracted from a major fast food chain

$45 million

An over-the-counter medication caused severe kidney damage to multiple users

$3.4 million

A pregnant woman contracted a Listeria infection from contaminated fruit and passed the infection to her child

$3 million

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A semi-truck rear-ended a motorcyclist causing a collapsed lung, rib fractures and road rash