Rizo-López Foods, a California-based cheese and dairy company, is issuing a nationwide recall of more than 60 products following a listeria outbreak that has resulted in two fatalities and over 20 hospitalizations. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reopened the case after identifying the same strain of listeria in a cheese sample from Rizo-López Foods, linking it to recent illnesses reported in December.
Recalled products include cheese, yogurt, and sour cream sold under various brand names, including Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, Rizo Bros, Rio Grande, Food City, El Huache, La Ordena, San Carlos, Campesino, Santa Maria, Dos Ranchitos, Casa Cardenas, and 365 Whole Foods Market, as reported by the FDA. Consumers are advised to discard any recalled items and sanitize any surfaces or containers they may have come into contact with.
Listeria contamination can cause severe illness, particularly in vulnerable populations such as pregnant individuals, newborns, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms, which typically manifest within two weeks of exposure, include fever, muscle aches, fatigue, headaches, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and seizures. Pregnant individuals are at risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection in newborns.
While listeria outbreaks are relatively uncommon, the CDC advises high-risk individuals to avoid certain foods likely to harbor the bacteria, such as unpasteurized soft cheeses, raw sprouts, and unheated deli meats. Listeria can be eradicated by heating food to a safe internal temperature.
Diagnosis of listeria infection requires a lab test, and treatment usually involves antibiotics, although specific plans vary depending on the severity of the illness. Vigilance in food safety practices and prompt medical attention are crucial in preventing and managing listeria infections.