CDC warns of listeria outbreak in Hispanic-style soft cheeses

Generic photo of queso fresco.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of a listeria outbreak linked to Hispanic-style soft cheeses such as queso fresco. 

The health agency said on Friday that anyone pregnant, aged 65 or older, or with a weakened immune system should avoid these types of cheeses until a specific brand or type linked to the outbreak is identified.

"Don’t eat any Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses (like queso fresco, queso blanco, and queso panela), until we identify a specific type or brand that is making people sick," the CDC wrote in a press release. 

So far, the agency has identified outbreaks in four states. Seven hospitalizations have been reported. 

The CDC says anyone with Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses should make sure the labels say "Made with pasteurized milk." 

"Be aware that Hispanic-style soft cheeses made from pasteurized milk have caused Listeria outbreaks," the CDC says. "Although pasteurization of milk kills Listeria, products made from pasteurized milk can still become contaminated if they are produced in facilities with unsanitary conditions."

Listeria can cause severe illness. Symptoms typically start one to four weeks after eating contaminated food and include diarrhea and fever. Those who contract the illness usually recover without treatment, according to the CDC.