A recent multistate listeria outbreak involving various dairy products has resulted in nationwide recalls. As of this writing, 113 food items under numerous brand names have been recalled. 

Investigations are ongoing as of February 2024. However, due to the potential consequences of infection, federal agencies recommend throwing away recalled products and sanitizing all surfaces that touched them.

Read on to learn about the ongoing investigations, which products have been recalled, the listeria symptoms to watch for, and your legal options if you’ve suffered harm due to infection.

Listeria Outbreak Investigation Details

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and state health officials are currently investigating the foodborne outbreak. The goal is to identify the source(s) of the listeria, the number of people affected, and the establishments that provide the contaminated products. 

The CDC first investigated listeria outbreaks in 2017 and 2021. Dating back to 2014, people had complained of illnesses associated with consuming queso fresco or cotija. The agency found that the outbreak was connected with queso fresco and similar cheeses but never identified the specific brand. 

The CDC reopened the listeria investigation in January 2024 after new illnesses were reported the prior month. In that investigation, the listeria strain was found in a Rizo-López Foods cheese sample. 

Due to the finding, Rizo-López Foods voluntarily recalled various dairy products on February 5, 2024. 

How Many People Have Been Infected By Eating the Products?

According to the CDC, as of February 6, 2024, 26 people from 11 states are known to have been infected with the outbreak strain of listeria. These illnesses represent people who got sick between June 15, 2014 (the first reported illness) and December 10, 2023. 

Of the 26 infected people, 23 were hospitalized, and two died – one from Texas and the other from California. 

The actual number of people infected by the listeria strain is likely much higher than reported. Some people recover without medical intervention, and others aren’t tested for listeria. Additionally, some individuals don’t show symptoms for weeks, so there may be more cases to come.

Which Products Have Been Recalled Due To Listeria?

The FDA has released a list of recalled products, which include various types of cheeses, such as:

  • Cotija 
  • Ricotta
  • Queso fresco
  • Blanco suave 
  • Queso crema 
  • Queso seco
  • Queso para freir
  • Requeson
  • Oaxaca
  • Panela

These cheeses can be found in numerous food products, including: 

  • Salad and salad kits
  • Wraps and sandwiches
  • Rice bowls
  • Enchiladas 
  • Burritos 
  • Tacos and taco kits
  • Dips and dressings

Unfortunately, these items are sold nationwide, and many brands have been associated with the outbreak. Various major retailers sold these products, including Walmart, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Costco, and H-E-B. 

What Are the Symptoms of a Listeria Infection? 

A listeria infection – known as listeriosis – can cause various symptoms. The effects of those symptoms are especially severe in pregnant women, newborns, people with weakened immune systems, and older adults (65 and over). 

For mild cases, the symptoms of listeriosis could include: 

  • Nausea
  • Muscle aches 
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue 

With more severe cases of listeria infection, a person may experience: 

  • Headaches 
  • Loss of balance 
  • Stiff neck 
  • Confusion 
  • Convulsions/seizures 
  • Miscarriage, premature birth, or stillbirth for pregnant women
  • Death

Symptoms typically manifest within a few hours to two weeks after eating the contaminated food. However, severe forms of listeriosis may take up to three months to develop. 

The symptoms associated with a listeria infection can be severe and far-reaching, especially if you’re a vulnerable individual. You may have legal recourse if you’ve suffered harm from consuming listeria-contaminated food. 

An experienced product liability lawyer can help you file a food poisoning claim. Though these cases can be challenging to prove, it’s often easier if the illness is the result of a foodborne illness outbreak such as this one. You may have a legal cause of action against the manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer, depending on the facts of your case. 

If your listeria claim is successful, you may be able to recover compensation for your economic and non-economic damages, including: 

  • Medical bills for hospitalization and medical treatment 
  • Lost income and job benefits from missing work 
  • Reduced earning capacity if you’ve suffered long-term impairments
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Pain and suffering

You have a limited time to take legal action under the Texas statute of limitations. Contact Attorney Brian White Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your potential case with an experienced Houston product liability attorney.

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