Tag Archives: soft cheese

Queso Fresco

FDA Releases Listeriosis Prevention Strategy for Soft Fresh Queso Fresco Cheese

Queso Fresco

Between 2014-2017, the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network investigated five listeriosis outbreaks linked to the consumption of soft fresh queso fresco type (QFT) cheeses. Most recently, in 2021 CORE investigated an outbreak linked to soft fresh QFT cheeses that sickened 13 people. In response, the FDA has released a summary of a new strategy aimed at reducing foodborne outbreaks and illness associated with the consumption of soft fresh Queso Fresco type cheeses.

The agency noted that, historically QFT cheese-related outbreaks were found to be associated with unpasteurized milk; however, recent investigations have included cheeses made from pasteurized milk with contamination occurring during the cheese making process.

The prevention strategy is based on review of the outbreak findings, historical data, and engagements with industry and other stakeholders, and includes:

  • Prioritizing inspections with environmental sampling at soft fresh QFT manufacturing firms.
  • Engaging with state partners to increase sampling of QFT cheese at retail operations in the U.S.  for the presence of L. monocytogenes.
  • Developing and distributing a publication that outlines the potential causes of recent listeriosis outbreaks in soft cheeses and a fact sheet that describes requirements for Listeria control in cheese manufacturing.
  • Collaborating with states and other food safety partners to disseminate training and education materials to producers and consumers of soft fresh QFT.

By implementing these activities, the FDA hopes to:

  • Ensure that the cheese industry is aware of regulatory requirements applicable to the production of QFT.
  • Enhance compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements by producers of QFT.
  • Verify through inspections and sampling that producers of QFT are adhering to those requirements.

As part of the prevention strategy the FDA has also released a fact sheet to help manufacturers of soft queso fresco-type cheeses better understand food safety risks the can occur during production. The fact sheet also identifies food safety resources available to manufacturers.

El Abuelito Cheese

Recall Alert: Listeria Outbreak Linked to Hispanic-Style Fresh and Soft Cheeses

By Food Safety Tech Staff
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El Abuelito Cheese

–UPDATE March 9, 2021 — Today the FDA confirmed that the recalled cheeses were also distributed to Rhode Island. “States with confirmed distribution now include: AL, CT, FL, GA, IA, IL, IN, KS, KY, MA, MD, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NJ, NY, NE, OH, PA, RI, SC, TN, VA, and WI.”

–UPDATE February 24, 2021 — FDA has expanded its warning related to El Abuelito Cheese to include all cheese branded by the company “until more information is known”.


A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes has been linked to Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses produced by El Abuelito Cheese, Inc. As a result, the company has recalled all Questo Fresco products with sell by dates through March 28 (032821).

Join Food Safety Tech on April 15 for the complimentary Food Safety Hazards Series: Listeria Detection, Mitigation, Control & Regulation“As the FDA stated, about this outbreak investigation, the Connecticut Department of Public Health collected product samples of El Abuelito-brand Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses from a store where a sick person bought cheeses. Sample analysis showed the presence of Listeria monocytogenes in samples of El Abuelito Queso Fresco sold in 10 oz packages, marked as Lot A027 with an expiration date of 02/26/2021,” the company stated in an announcement posted on FDA’s website. “Samples are currently undergoing Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) analysis to determine if the Listeria monocytogenes found in these samples is a match to the outbreak strain. At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco.”.

The recalled products were distributed to Connecticut, Maryland, New Jersey, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Thus far seven people, all of whom have been hospitalized, have fallen ill.

FDA recommends that consumers, restaurants and retailers do not consume, sell or serve any of the recalled cheeses. The agency also states that anyone who purchased of received the recalled products use “extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination.”