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Deadly Listeria Outbreak Spurs Recall of Snack Foods Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday

In the aftermath of a fatal listeria outbreak, a flurry of food recalls has been initiated, impacting snack foods that could potentially feature in Super Bowl Sunday celebrations.

Federal health officials have identified products such as seven-layer bean dip, chicken enchiladas, cilantro salad dressing, and taco kits, distributed by Rizo Lopez Foods, Inc. of Modesto, California, as part of the expanding recall. These items have been retailed at popular stores including Costco, Trader Joe’s, and Albertson’s.

The recall stems from dairy products manufactured by Rizo Lopez Foods, which have been pinpointed as the source of the listeria outbreak responsible for claiming two lives and afflicting over two dozen individuals since 2014, as confirmed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Although investigations into illnesses were conducted in 2017 and 2021, the exact source of contamination was only determined recently, aided by new laboratory and inspection data following a surge in illnesses in December.

On Monday, Rizo Lopez Foods issued a recall encompassing over 60 soft cheeses, yogurt, and sour cream products marketed under various brand names including Tio Francisco, Don Francisco, and 365 Whole Foods Market. These items were distributed to food service providers, retailers, and deli counters nationwide.

Consumers are urged to refer to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) list of recalled products for the latest updates on descriptions, sizes, and best-by dates. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a public health alert concerning specific Amazon kitchen burritos containing ingredients sourced from Rizo Lopez Foods.

Listeria food poisoning, affecting approximately 1,600 individuals annually according to CDC estimates, poses a serious health risk, particularly to pregnant individuals, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms, including muscle aches, fever, and fatigue, typically manifest within two weeks post-consumption of contaminated foods.

As a precautionary measure, consumers in possession of the recalled products are advised to discard them promptly and sanitize their refrigerators, countertops, and other surfaces thoroughly. Listeria can survive in cold environments and easily contaminate adjacent foods and surfaces, highlighting the importance of meticulous cleaning practices.