ALERT: Products From Costco, Walmart, and Trader Joes Torn From Shelves Over Deadly Listeria Outbreak

A severe listeria outbreak linked to dairy products has led to recalls from well-known retailers including Costco, Walmart, and Trader Joe’s, affecting consumers in a range of states.

Investigations by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in collaboration with local health departments, have connected the outbreak to queso fresco and cotija cheeses produced by Rizo-López Foods. The outbreak has also triggered recalls of cheese, cream, and yogurt products nationwide.

Reports of infections from this specific strain of listeria date back to 2014, with investigations in 2017 and 2021 pointing to queso fresco and similar cheeses as possible sources.

Despite these efforts, a specific brand could not be pinpointed until recently, when the investigation was reopened due to new cases reported in December.

In January 2024, a sample of Rizo Bros Aged Cotija cheese tested positive for listeria monocytogenes, as confirmed by the Hawaii State Department of Health’s Food and Drug Branch.

Since June 15, 2014, to December 10, 2023, 24 people have been reported infected across 11 states. The actual number of infections is suspected to be higher than reported because some individuals may recover without seeking medical care.

Out of the available cases, 23 individuals have been hospitalized, and two fatalities have been reported, one in California and another in Texas.

Interviews with 22 affected individuals revealed that approximately 73% had consumed queso fresco, cotija, or similar cheeses.

The recall has expanded to include a variety of cheese products, as well as items such as salads, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, sandwiches, and various sauces and dips.

As a result, the FDA has listed 112 products sold by major retailers, including Costco, Walmart, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods, that are now subject to recall.

Symptoms of listeria infection can appear within two weeks of consuming contaminated food and range from mild issues like fever and muscle aches to more severe symptoms such as confusion and loss of balance. Pregnant individuals, seniors, and those with weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to illness.

Authorities advise discarding or returning recalled products and thoroughly cleaning any surfaces that may have come into contact with them.

This is due to the bacteria’s ability to survive in refrigeration and potentially contaminate other foods and surfaces.

Anyone experiencing symptoms after consuming recalled items is urged to seek medical attention immediately.