Maker of Recalled Cheese Cited for Listeria at Brooklyn, New York Facility

Azteca Linda Corp., a Brooklyn, New York cheese maker that has issued recalls in the past, is now the recipient of a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter. Apparently, federal inspectors found Listeria at its Brooklyn manufacturing facility.

As we reported in July, Azteca Linda first recalled its Queso Fresco (Fresh White Cheese) and Queso Hebra (Fresh White String Cheese) with an expiration date of July 7, 2010 last summer because of potential<"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/listeria"> Listeria monocytogenes contamination. In August, it recalled the same varieties, this time with an expiration date of September 11, 2010, again for Listeria. That recall was expanded in September to include cheese with an expiration date of September 12, 2010. At that time, Azteca Linda also announced it was recalling Queso El Azteca brand Requeson (Ricotta Cheese) with expiration date September 19, 2010, again because of possible Listeria contamination.

According to the FDA warning letter issued to Azteca Linda on January 7:

“Nine environmental swabs collected on June 7, 2010 from your facility tested positive for L. monocytogenes, These swabs were collected from: a cracked and pitted floor with standing water directly beneath the stainless steel Queso Fresco table #1, which is located along the west wall of processing room; the stainless steel wall on the right side above the stainless steel Queso Fresco table #2, which is located along the west wall of the processing room; standing water in the cracked and missing floor tile on the floor next to Queso Fresco table # 2; standing water in the cracked and pitted floors beneath the pasteurizer near the northwest corner of the processing room; broomstick bristles of the black broom in the northeast corner of the processing room; inside and underneath the black dust pan stored in the northeast corner of the processing room; standing water in front of the exit door on the north wall of the processing room, the area between and underneath the right side of Queso Fresco table #1, and the area between and underneath the left side of Queso Fresco table #1.

“In addition, three environmental swabs collected on August 25, 2010 from your facility tested positive for L. monocytogenes. These swabs were collected from: the surface of the front edge of the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #1 located along the west wall of the processing room; the surface of the front edge of the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #2 located along the west wall of the processing room; and the area between and underneath the stainless steel Queso Fresco production table #2 after the table top was removed for cleaning (left side). L. monocytogenes found in the environment of your facility increases the risk of your finished product becoming contaminated.”

The FDA’s New York district office gave Azteca 15 days to respond listing the corrective actions it will take to come into compliance with federal food safety regulations.

Listeria 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 in pregnant women.

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