Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Listeria monocytogenes Triggers Recall of Mexican Style Cheese

March 10, 2009

One month ago, Peregrina Cheese Corp. recalled a single production code of Queso Fresco cheese after the New York State Department of Agriculture & Markets found Listeria monocytogenes in a sample taken as part of a routine monitoring program. 

The recall now has expanded to include two additional production batches and a second variety of cheese, according to the FDA. The following combined list of recalled Peregrina cheeses were distributed to retail stores in the New York City boroughs of Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan, and in the Pennsylvania cities of Scranton and Hazelton.

  • Queso Fresco Fresh Cheese (14-oz foil wrapped packages): UPC #8 17424 00024 6; Plant #36-8431; Lot numbers 4461 (February recall), 4469, 4477
  • Queso Cotija Molido Grated Cheese (15-oz clear plastic bags): UPC #8 17424 00027 7; Plant #36-1388; No lot number or production date on the package

Peregrina's expanded recall was initiated after FDA detected Listeria monocytogenes in some samples of the company's cheese. No illnesses have been reported.

As eFoodAlert pointed out last month, Peregrina has a history of Listeria monocytogenes contamination in its cheeses. The company initiated a similar recall in December 2007.

The FDA news release, issued as a "warning" to consumers, makes no mention of last month's actions by New York State. But one must assume that the state – as a matter of routine procedure – notified FDA of its findings, especially since the cheese was shipped interstate. 

It's a sign of FDA's lack of adequate staff and limited lab resources – exacerbated by the peanut investigations – that a full month elapsed between the state and federal actions. 

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