Deadly listeria outbreak results in ricotta cheese recall at Whole Foods

whole foods ricotta
whole foods ricotta

A range of dairy products — including ricotta cheese sold at Whole Foods — have been recalled in connection with a fatal listeria outbreak, the Food and Drug Administration has revealed.

The manufacturer, Rizo-López Foods, is voluntarily calling back a variety of cheeses, yogurts, and sour creams in the wake of two deaths and 23 hospitalizations brought on by the illness, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

The 11 states affected are: California, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Florida.

“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.

Recalled brand names to be on the lookout for include: 365 Whole Foods Market, Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, Rizo Bros, Rio Grande, Food City, El Huache, La Ordena, San Carlos, Campesino, Santa Maria, Dos Ranchitos, and Casa Cardenas.

Besides Whole Foods, one or more of the contaminated products were sold at these retailers: El Super, Cardenas Market, Northgate Gonzalez, Superior Groceries, El Rancho, Vallarta, Food City, La Michoacana, and Numero Uno Markets.

Products made by Whole Foods were included in a recall over a listeria outbreak. UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Products made by Whole Foods were included in a recall over a listeria outbreak. UCG/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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.

More recently this January, the Hawaii State Department of Health found listeria on Rizo Bros. Aged Cotija Mexican Grating Cheese, which prompted the brand to recall that specific product about a month ago, according to the FDA.

In addition to both the Whole Foods brand whole milk and skim ricotta being listed, 16 of 22 people interviewed by the CDC said they had eaten queso fresco, cotija, or similar cheeses.

Several cheese items were recently recalled over fears of listeria. FDA
Several cheese items were recently recalled over fears of listeria. FDA
Several outbreaks have been traced back to cotija cheese. FDA
Several outbreaks have been traced back to cotija cheese. FDA
Whole Foods brand ricotta was recently recalled for listeria. FDA
Whole Foods brand ricotta was recently recalled for listeria. FDA

The FDA warns that listeria symptoms typically begin two weeks after eating contaminated food but could start as early as the same day or even ten weeks later. Typical mild symptoms include fever, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, exhaustion, and diarrhea.

Worse symptoms involve headache, neck stiffness, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.