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15-state listeria recall spreads to popular cheese brand

Close view of a shredded white cheddar, sharp cheddar and mild cheddar cheeses. Sargento cheeses and map of listeria outbreak
Sargento, a food company best known for its cheese, is recalling shredded and grated products sold to food service groups in 15 states amid concerns the food could be contaminated with listeria.

A popular cheese brand has recalled its products in 15 states due to a possible listeria outbreak.

Sargento, a food company best known for its cheese, is recalling shredded and grated products sold to food service groups in 15 states amid concerns the food could be contaminated with listeria.

The recall affects thousands of various cheeses distributed to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin.

The recall affects thousands of various cheeses distributed to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Bert Folsom – stock.adobe.com
The recall affects thousands of various cheeses distributed to Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin. Bert Folsom – stock.adobe.com

No products sold in retail markets are affected.

Listeria is a serious infection typically caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes. Those who become infected may experience a fever, muscle aches, headaches, a stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, seizures, diarrhea and vomiting within 24 hours.

Most people recover after three days and rarely become seriously ill but about 260 die a year, according to the CDC.

The recent Sargento recall has come from products produced from one supplier, California-based Rizo-Lopez Foods Inc.

“On February 5, out of an abundance of caution, Sargento voluntarily recalled the products that were supplied by Rizo-Lopez Foods Inc. and products that were packaged on the same lines,” Sargento said in a statement.

The recent Sargento recall has come from products produced by one supplier, California-based Rizo-Lopez Foods Inc. Adriana – stock.adobe.com
The recent Sargento recall has come from products produced by one supplier, California-based Rizo-Lopez Foods Inc. Adriana – stock.adobe.com

“This recall did not impact Sargento-branded products. Sargento immediately terminated its relationship with Rizo-Lopez Foods Inc. and immediately notified our customers.”

The supplier has also affected numerous other dairy brands including Bright Farms, Campesino, Casa Cardenas, Dole, Don Francisco, Don Pancho, Dos Ranchitos, El Huache, Food City, Fresh & Ready Foods, Fresh Express, H-E-B, Jack & Olive, La Ordena, Marketside, Maverick Foods, President’s Choice, Ready Pac Bistro, Rio Grande, Rizo Bros, Rico, Rojos, San Carlos, Santa Maria, Sprig & Sprout (S&S), The Perfect Bite Co., Tio Francisco, Trader Joe’s and 365 Whole Foods Market.

The Rizo-Lopez recall has resulted in 26 illnesses, including two deaths and 23 hospitalizations as of Feb. 22, the Food and Drug Administration reported.

The Rizo-Lopez recall has resulted in 26 illnesses, including two deaths and 23 hospitalizations as of Feb. 22, the Food and Drug Administration reported. CDC
The Rizo-Lopez recall has resulted in 26 illnesses, including two deaths and 23 hospitalizations as of Feb. 22, the Food and Drug Administration reported. CDC

“The true number of sick people in this outbreak is likely higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses,” the CDC announced.

Cases date back to 2014; the situation was investigated by the CDC both in 2017 and 2021, but the agency said it lacked the information needed to identify a specific brand at the time.