El Ranchero’s queso fresco, long a staple in Latino cuisine, has recalled its fresh cheese and hoja de platano (cheese in banana leaf) because of fears they could be contaminated with Listeria.
The company, El Ranchero Del Sur based in South River, New Jersey, voluntarily recalled its cheeses after a pregnant woman tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, an infection that could be fatal among young children or senior citizens. The woman was 38 weeks pregnant when she was diagnosed earlier this month in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
After the diagnosis, the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services tested an El Ranchero product and determined it was contaminated with Listeria. Among the products that were recalled were El Ranchero Queso Fresco 14 ounces, Los Corrales Queso Fresco en Hoja de Platano 14 ounces, El Ranchero Queso Oaxaca 14 ounces and 10-pound packages of string cheese.
“El Ranchero Del Sur, LLC has ceased the production and distribution of these products,” the company said in a statement.” The FDA and El Ranchero del Sur, LLC. continue their investigation as to what may have caused the problem.”
The products are found mostly in Mexican and Latin American grocery stores and restaurants.
The Food and Drug Administration says pregnant Hispanic women have a higher incidence of listeriosis than pregnant non-Latina women because they tend to eat homemade soft cheese from unpasteurized milk. Queso fresco, widely consumed by Hispanics, “has led to miscarriages, death of newborns and premature delivery caused by listeria,” the FDA says.
Pregnant woman infected with listeria may pass the infection to their unborn babies without ever feeling any symptoms. Listeria can also be found in cold cuts, meat spreads and hot dogs. The FDA strongly encourages pregnant women to avoid those foods.
Last year, 146 people were infected with listeria during outbreak-associated strains reported in 28 states, according to the CDC. About 30 deaths were reported, as well as a woman who was pregnant at the time of illness and had a miscarriage, the CDC says.