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Queseria Bendita Recalls Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson Because of Listeria Illnesses in Washinton and Oregon

According to an FDA Press Release, Queseria Bendita of Yakima, Wash., is recalling three types of cheese, Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes, an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems.

Although healthy individuals may suffer only short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea, Listeria infection can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The Queso Fresco, Panela, and Requeson cheeses are sold at Queseria Bendita’s retail store and were distributed in Washington and Oregon, where they are sold in Hispanic markets.

The Queso Fresco is packaged in one- and three-pound vacuum packed wheels; the Panela is vacuum packed in one- and three- pound sizes; and the Requeson is packed in eight-ounce and one- pound clear plastic tubs.

Each cheese has a green label identifying the type of cheese, the Queseria Bendita brand name, and a date code up to and including "Apr 30 2010".

To date there is one confirmed illness in Washington related to the recalled product. Other illnesses in Washington and Oregon may also be related.

The public health investigation of the illnesses led to sampling and testing of the cheeses. The testing revealed the contamination of the product with Listeria monocytogenes.

The company has ceased production and distribution of the product while the Washington State Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the firm investigate the source of the problem.