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Cheese maker recalls products

Sun., Feb. 21, 2010

Listeria triggers hospitalizations in two states

YAKIMA – A Yakima company said Friday it is recalling three types of Mexican-style soft cheeses sold in Washington and Oregon. An Oregon official said the cheese has been linked to five illnesses.

Cheeses labeled Queso Fresco, Panela and Requeson are being recalled because they are potentially contaminated with listeria, Queseria Bendita said in a statement.

There has been one confirmed illness in Washington related to the product, and other illnesses in Washington and Oregon may be related, the company said.

Two pregnant Oregon women were sickened by listeria after eating the cheese, William Keene, a senior epidemiologist with the Oregon Public Health Division, told the Oregonian. Their two babies were delivered slightly prematurely because of fetal distress, he added.

Keene said the four Oregon residents as well as a Washington resident were hospitalized.

The cheeses have been sold at Queseria Bendita’s retail store and were distributed in Washington and Oregon, where they are sold in Hispanic markets.

A public health investigation of the illness led to cheese testing, which showed contamination with listeria, the company said.

Listeria is a type of bacteria that can cause fever, muscle aches and nausea in healthy individuals. It can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, the company said.

The company has ceased production and distribution of the product while it works with the Washington state Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to investigate the source of the problem.


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