MODESTO, California – A cheese and dairy company in Modesto, California has been identified as the source of a decade-long listeria outbreak that has claimed the lives of two individuals and left more than two dozen others sick, according to federal health officials.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that lab and inspection evidence linked soft cheeses and other dairy products made by Rizo-Lopez Foods to the outbreak, which was first detected in June 2014. Since then, at least 26 people in 11 states have been affected, with fatalities reported in California in 2017 and Texas in 2020.
In light of these developments, the company has issued a voluntary recall of more than 60 soft cheeses, yogurt, and sour cream products sold under various brand names, including Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, Rizo Bros, and Rio Grande, among others.
This is not the first time that Rizo-Lopez Foods has been implicated in such cases, as the CDC previously investigated food poisoning tied to similar types of cheese in 2017 and 2021. However, the evidence was not sufficient to pinpoint a source. New illnesses reported in December prompted the CDC to reopen the investigation, leading to the discovery of the listeria strain in a cheese sample from Rizo-Lopez Foods.
As a result of the nationwide distribution of the recalled products, consumers have been advised to discard them and thoroughly clean their refrigerators and other contact sites to prevent further contamination and potential illness. Listeria infections can cause serious harm, particularly to pregnant individuals, those over 65, and those with weakened immune systems. Symptoms such as muscle aches, fever, and tiredness usually manifest within two weeks of consuming contaminated foods.