Andrew M. Cuomo, Governor | Richard A. Ball, Commissioner

Food Safety Alert

August 06, 2010

Jessica Ziehm

Staphylococcus Aureus in Queso Cotija Cheese

New York State Agriculture Commissioner Patrick Hooker today warned consumers in the Queens County, New York area not to consume certain “Queso Cotija Cheese” made by Mexicali Cheese Corp, 91-52 87th Street, Woodhaven, New York 11421 due to possible Staphylococcus aureus contamination.

The recalled grated Cotija style cheese is contained in 14-ounce clear plastic packages with a plant code of #36-0128 and with “SELL BY 102910” affixed to the package.  The manufacturer name presented on the package is Mexicali Cheese Corp.   The product was distributed in Queens.

A routine sample of the cheese, taken by an inspector from the Division of Milk Control and Dairy Services on July 28, 2010, was subsequently tested by the Department’s Food Laboratory and discovered to be contaminated with high levels of Staphylococcus aureus.  On August 3, 2010, the manufacturer was notified of the positive test result and voluntarily recalled the product.  The recalled cheese was grated from a larger wheel of cheese that remained at the plant and was disposed of by the manufacturer. 

Staphylococcus aureus is a bacteria that usually causes rapid food poisoning symptoms, including nausea, vomiting, retching, abdominal cramping and prostration.  In more severe cases, headache, muscle cramping and transient changes in blood pressure and pulse may occur.  Recovery generally takes two days.  All people are susceptible and death is very rare, however such cases have occurred among the elderly, infants and severely debilitated persons.

To date, no illnesses are known by the Department to be associated with this product.  Consumers who have purchased Mexicali’s “Queso Cotija Cheese” “should return the product to the place of purchase or discard.

2010 Consumer Alerts