Trader Joe's Products Pulled From Shelves Amid Ongoing Cheese Recall

Check your fridge Trader Joe's fans, because the popular grocery chain is issuing a recall of four products that contain Cotija cheese. The announcement is connected to a larger recall of products containing Cotija cheese, queso fresco, and other dairy products from Rizo-López Foods, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), have been connected to an outbreak of Listeria. So far, the outbreak has been traced across 11 states and has resulted in 23 hospitalizations and two deaths. 

The larger recall was issued by Rizo-López Foods just two days ago on February 6, 2024, so the investigation is still ongoing. Trader Joe's announcement says the possibly contaminated cheese was used in four Mexican products. They are the Chicken Enchiladas Verde (with a SKU of 58292), Cilantro Salad Dressing (SKU 36420), the Elote Chopped Salad Kit (SKU 74768), and Southwest Salad (SKU 56077). 

The company says that anyone who has these products should throw them out or return them to a local Trader Joe's store for a full refund. The CDC also recommends that if you have recalled products in your possession, you should clean any refrigerators, surfaces, or containers that they may have contacted because Listeria can survive in cold environments. Trader Joe's says anyone with questions can contact the company's customer relations department at (626) 599-3817 or by email through its website.

A Listeria outbreak tied to cheese and dairy has affected dozens of brands

The Rizo-López Foods recall is tied to lots of brands that sell Mexican cheese and dairy products, including Whole Foods' 365, Tio Francisco, and El Huache. While the Trader Joe's recall is centered around Cotija cheese, at Whole Foods the recalled product is ricotta, and for the other brands it ranges to queso crema, yogurt, and Oaxacan cheese. The full list of recalled products and the sell-by date ranges of the potentially infected dairy can be found in this press release from Rizo-López.

While it can be easy to dismiss food safety concerns as overblown, Listeria infection can cause major health problems and is potentially deadly. According to the CDC, women who are pregnant, newborns, people over the age of 65, and immunocompromised people are the most at risk, while for other groups the threat of serious illness is minor. Listeria infection and its symptoms can take a couple of different forms. 

For intestinal infections, diarrhea and vomiting are the most common symptoms, so be aware if you have consumed any potentially tainted products recently. If Listeria spreads beyond the gut, symptoms can include flu and fever-like effects, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and even seizures. Those more serious symptoms can occur up to two weeks after consuming products containing Listeria. Anyone who experiences these more intense symptoms should contact a doctor immediately. Further information can be found on the CDC's Listeria Q&A page.