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Cheese Recall Across US as Warning Issued Over Listeria Contamination

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Thursday that a California-based cheesemaker has recalled more than 300 cases of one of its cheese products over a possible health hazard.

Rizo Lopez Foods, a Modesto-headquartered company that has been making Mexican and Central American cheeses, creams, meats and beverages since 1990, is concerned that 344 cases of Aged Cotija Mexican Grating Cheese may be contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, a pathogenic bacterium.

The product, which was distributed nationwide, comes in small 8 ounce “puck” shape packaging wrapped in clear plastic marked with red and black lettering at the bottom, which reads: “Cotija, made with Grade A Milk.” The ingredient description also features on the package, while nutritional facts are noted in black below.

The top of the package reads “Cotija Aged Mexican Grating Cheese” with an orange background. The products recalled can be identified on the outer edge of the clear plastics, saying: “Sell by 05/12/24 BATCH 4DW-23318” in black lettering.

The FDA said the recall was the result of a routine sampling program by the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch on Wednesday, January 3. The analysis of the product revealed that the finished product contained the bacteria.

To date, according to the federal agency, no confirmed illnesses have been linked to the consumption of the product.

Consumers who might have purchased the recalled product are urged to quarantine it and “destroy it,” as the FDA recommends. Anyone with any question can call the company at 1-800-626-5587, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. PST.

What’s Listeria Monocytogenes?

This bacterium can be found in moist environments, soil, water, decaying vegetation and animals, according to the federal agency. It can survive under refrigeration and other food preservation measures, and it’s generally transmitted when food is harvested, processed, prepared, packed, transported or stored in contaminated places.

If ingested, the bacterium can cause an infection called listeriosis, whose symptoms may vary according to how severe the illness is and can appear within a few hours or take as long as two or three days to emerge.

People may be sick for a few days or several weeks, and mild symptoms can include a fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. More severe symptoms include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.

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