List the Hysteria

Food contamination

Due to a Listeria outbreak and the resulting deaths of two consumers, a selection of dairy products sold by Modesto, California-based company Rizo López Foods has been recalled.  The items were sold in retail stores, such as Walmart, Costco, and Trader Joe’s.  The roughly 60 items removed from store shelves range from various salad dressings, salad kits, taco kits, layered dips, queso fresco, and cotija cheese.  As early as June 2014, at least 26 people have reported illnesses tied to the consumption of the recalled products.  Since December 2023, the investigation was reopened.

The recently tested sample matches the positive strain of Listeria found in the original investigations conducted within the past ten years, in 2017 and 2021.  The Hawaii State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch produced the test results and the conclusion that the Rizo Bros Aged Cotija was one of the brands impacted.  The CDC later reported that following an FDA investigation at the Rizo Lopez Foods facility, the specific strain of Listeria that was reportedly linked to the outbreak was located on “a container where cheeses are kept before they are packaged.”  Costco and Trader Joe’s have urged consumers that have purchased anything from the list of possibly contaminated products to discard the items and contact the retailer for a full refund.

The CDC has also encouraged customers to thoroughly clean the surfaces within their homes that have come into contact with the recalled products.  The bacteria may easily spread to food and is likely to survive refrigeration.  As reported within the investigations, Listeria may prove deadly and may lead to infection.  Ranked as the third deadliest foodborne illness, the Listeria infection is especially harmful to individuals that are older, pregnant, or immunocompromised.  While Rizo López Foods has issued a voluntary recall, Costco and Trader Joe’s have also recalled all items associated with the outbreak.