Costco, Trader Joe’s and Walmart are among several major retailers that have issued recalls on certain dairy items following an FDA announcement this week connecting a listeria outbreak to potentially dozens of products, which has caused over 20 hospitalizations and two deaths.
Almost 60 dairy products like queso fresco and cotija cheese sold in major retailers nationwide like Costco, Trader Joe’s and Walmart have been affected by the listeria outbreak tied to California-based food supplier Rizo-Lopez Foods, the Food and Drug Administration announced earlier this week, though the company recalled all its dairy products.
This “multi-year, multistate outbreak” contains the same listeria strain as cases dating back to 2014, though this is the first time a brand was identified as the culprit; FDA investigations into the outbreak in 2017 and 2021 and couldn’t identify a specific brand, according to the announcement.
Trader Joe’s announced Wednesday it recalled four products containing affected dairy products and offered full refunds for them, Costco recalled five products—including its southwest wraps—Wednesday and also offered full refunds and Walmart announced Tuesday over 600 stores were affected.
The products were sold nationwide in grocery stores and delis under various brand names, including Rizo Bros, 365 Whole Foods Market and Rio Grande, with sell by dates through July 1, according to Rizo-Lopez Foods.
Since the start of the outbreak, there have been 26 cases, 23 hospitalizations and two deaths—one in Texas and one in California—though the true number of cases is likely higher since some people recover on their own without medical care, and without getting tested for listeria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The FDA’s investigation into the outbreak is ongoing, and Rizo-Lopez Foods has temporarily stopped production and distribution of these products until the investigation has concluded, the FDA reports.
1,600. That’s how many people get sick with listeriosis in the U.S. each year, according to the FDA. Of that number, around 250 people die each year.
Listeriosis is an infection caused by listeria bacteria, which contaminate many foods, according to the CDC. Soft cheese, meat spreads, sprouts, unpasteurized milk, melons, cold-smoked fish and deli meats, cheese and salads have the highest risk of listeria contamination. Adults 65 years and older, those with a weakened immune system, pregnant people, newborns and fetuses are the most at risk for getting food poisoning. The hospitalization rate among those with listeria infection is 94%, the FDA reports. Most listeria cases are treated with antibiotics. Though listeria infection in pregnant people is generally mild, it leads to fetal loss in 20% of cases and newborn death in 3% of cases, the CDC reports. Symptoms of infection include fever, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, muscle ache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and seizures.
Recalled kids’ applesauce pouches from three brands were linked to an Ecuador-based cinnamon processing company earlier this week. The pouches were recalled due to lead contamination and 90 confirmed cases of lead poisoning. The FDA believes the contamination could be intentional as a result of food fraud—adding a cheaper ingredient to food to cut costs while selling the food at a higher value. However, because the processor and its distributors didn’t directly ship their products to the U.S., the FDA has “limited authority” in the investigation.
Lead-Poisoned Applesauce: Ecuadorian Cinnamon Processor ‘Likely Source’ Behind Recalled Pouches, FDA Says (Forbes)