FDA Recalls Rico Queso Cheese

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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recalled 16-ounce, clear plastic packages of Rico Queso duro blanco (white hard cheese) distributed by Flores Food of America,  because the product might have been contaminated with Salmonella.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services found evidence of the Salmonella pathogen after routine testing of  Rico Queso cheese distributed in Florida local retail stores.  Production has stopped while the company continues its investigation into the source of the contamination.

To date, no illnesses have been reported but the FDA is alerting consumers who have purchased the recalled Rico Queso white hard cheese to return it to the place of purchase for a full refund. Consumers with questions can contact Rico Queso at 1-561-541-5206.

A Salmonella organism can cause damaging and sometimes deadly infections in children, the elderly or others with weakened immune systems. Usually healthy, infected people often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Although rare, the  Salmonella organism can enter the bloodstream and produce more debilitating illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e. infected aneurysms), endocarditis, and arthritis.

Apparently, children under age four, are at higher risk from these pathogens and long-term effects might be linked to “more disability, lost productivity, doctor visits, and hospitalizations,” said the LATimes previously. The paper also cited “premature death, paralysis, kidney failure,” and life-long “seizures or mental disability” which can occur later, after initial symptoms.

Food poisoning can also lead to other health disorders, some long-term and critical, such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Persons suffering from Salmonella poisoning increased their risk three-fold, while patients hospitalized around the time of the illness increased their chances five-fold. More than 600,000 Americans have some form of IBD each year that could include ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, which inflames the intestines. IBD can also cause abdominal cramps,  pain, diarrhea, weight loss and bleeding from the intestines.

Those infected with Salmonella could develop a form of reactive arthritis called Reiter’s Syndrome, which generally affects large weight-bearing joints such as the knees and lower back. The LATimes cited Salmonella as the number one cause of food borne illness in the U.S. and is commonly found in foods with animal origins, causing 16,000 illnesses and 556 deaths each year.