January 22, 2015 — Queseria Bendita, a manufacturer of Hispanic-style soft cheeses, has expanded a recall for Panela, Queso Fresco, and Requeson to include Cotija fresh soft cheese and sour cream.
The cheeses may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacteria that can cause severe food poisoning.
As of January 16, a total of three cases of food poisoning have been reported in King, Pierce, and Yakima counties by the Washington State Department of Health. Two people were hospitalized and one died.
The sour cream (crema agria) was sold in a 1-lb tub and marked with UPC code 0 94922 10608 7. The Cotija cheese was sold in 1-lb clear plastic wrap. The recall includes products with best-by dates up to April 16, 2015. The refrigerated cheeses have a shelf life up to 90 days.
Although listeriosis is relatively rare, soft cheese is one of the most common culprits and there have been dozens of recalls in the last few years. Listeria is naturally found in soil, especially in a farm environment where milk and cheese are produced.
It is one of the most common causes of mastitis in cows, a inflammatory reaction of the udder. When the cow is milked, Listeria can contaminate the milk and and raw or unpasteurized cheese product made from that milk.
Another problem is that Listeria continues to grow under refrigeration temperatures, especially in a moist environment with a low pH and low salt — exactly the conditions found in unpasteurized soft cheese or sour cream.
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