In 2021, the FDA, with the CDC and state and local partners, investigated a multiple state outbreak of L monocytogenes infections linked to the consumption of Queso Fresco cheese, a variety of soft fresh QFT, that sickened 13 people. FDA inspection revealed potential contributing factors, including the failure to identify and implement appropriate controls for L. monocytogenes and the lack of environmental monitoring for pathogens in the facility. The outbreak resulted in 12 hospitalizations, 2 pregnancy losses, and 1 death in the United States. The FDA reported 5 outbreaks between 2014 and 2017 and an additional 12 outbreaks of listeriosis in the U.S. during 1998‒2014. Most of these soft cheese outbreaks (8/12) were associated with Soft Queso Fresco-type (QFT). Recent outbreaks have been caused by cheeses made from pasteurized milk that was contaminated during the cheese-making process. The FDA has developed this prevention strategy to reduce outbreaks and illnesses of listeriosis associated with soft, fresh QFT cheeses. The agency has identified measures to reduce future incidences of foodborne illness related to QFT, including: (i) Prioritize inspections with environmental sampling at QFT manufacturing facilities. (ii) Engage with state partners to increase the sampling of QFT cheese at retail operations in the U.S. for the presence of L. monocytogenes. (iii) Develop and distribute a publication that outlines the potential causes of recent listeriosis outbreaks in soft cheeses. (iv) Disseminate training and education materials to producers and consumers of soft fresh QFT. @ https://www.fda.gov/food/new-era-smarter-food-safety/summary-fdas-strategy-help-prevent-listeriosis-outbreaks-associated-soft-fresh-queso-fresco-type
Summary of FDA’s strategy to help prevent Listeriosis outbreaks associated with Soft Fresh Queso Fresco-Type cheeses
The FDA has developed this prevention strategy with the goal of reducing outbreaks and illnesses of listeriosis associated with soft fresh QFT cheeses. L. monocytogenes can cause a severe infection, sometimes leading to death, in susceptible populations.