Consumer News

Smell something funny? Warnings and recalls for fish, cheese, medicine

queso fresco
One of the new safety warnings is for queso fresco, a soft fresh cheese often used in Mexican food. chispita_666 / Flickr

It’s time for a Food and Drug Administration recall update, a chance to check your pantry, fridge, medicine cabinet for offending products. 

There have been 34 recalls so far in 2021, everything from salad kits to nasal spray. Sometimes a recall emanates from the manufacturer because a product has been mislabeled. Other times, like when a product is making people sick, the FDA does the honors.

Dangerously cheesy  

One such case is queso fresco, a soft fresh cheese often used in Mexican food. On February 17 th , the FDA announced that its investigation into seven cases of Listeria had zeroed in on the cheese as a possible source of the bacteria, “Although the investigation is ongoing, CDC’s analysis of epidemiologic information indicates that Hispanic-style fresh and soft cheeses are the leading hypotheses for the cause of the illnesses,” the FDA explained in a press release. 

Listeria is a type of food poisoning caused by the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes and that can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, people 65 and older or with a preexisting condition that weakens the immune system. 

The FDA reported that not only had three of the people who got sick remembered eating queso fresco, but that samples of the cheese also showed Listeria monocytogenes. More genetic testing is needed to prove that the cheese, and which specific brand, may have caused the outbreak. “At this time, there is not enough evidence to determine if this outbreak is linked to El Abuelito Queso Fresco,” read the FDA statement.

Until there is an official recall, the FDA is warning consumers and restaurants that they should not purchase, consume, or serve El Abuelito Queso Fresco cheese and should avoid “Hispanic-style fresh & soft cheeses” until further information is available. In general, the FDA suggests buying queso fresco made with pasteurized milk to lessen the risk of bacterial contamination.

Something fishy 

While the cheese investigating cures, other cases are more cut and dry. L itehouse Inc. and Russ Davis Wholesale have issued voluntary recalls of products for not properly disclosing anchovies contained in their products.

Litehouse Inc., recalled its Brite Harbor Caesar Dressing packets, called pillows, due to undisclosed anchovies. Russ Davis did the same for its Buffalo Cauliflower Bites with Kowalski’s Steakhouse Blue Dressing because of anchovies in the blue cheese dressing.

Anchovies, a small fish, pose a significant allergy risk. Fish is one of the eight most common allergies, alongside tree nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, soy, peanuts, and wheat  When left unmarked, there is a chance that people with allergies could unintentionally consume the product.

A dangerous secret

Food items aren’t the only recent recalls. Adam’s Secret issued a voluntary recall for its Extra Strength 1500 and 3000 capsules. What, you ask, is Adam’s Secret? The male enhancement pills claim to “help stimulate activity ” using a blend of herbs like Ginkgo Biloba and Maca.

The FDA prompted the recall after lab testing found that, mixed in with the blend of herbs the pills contained sildenafil, the generic name for Viagra. So Adams’ real secret is that along with all those natural herbs and supplements, there is a little bit of all-natural phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitor, the special drug name for erectile dysfunction medication.  

Sildenafil is a safe and legitimate drug. But it requires a prescription. Adding it without telling consumers could lead to dangerous side effects. In its recall alert, the FDA warned that “ Consumers with underlying medical issues who take Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 1500 or Adam’s Secret Extra Strength 3000 capsules...may experience serious health risks.”

The FDA explained that prescription drugs for diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease could interact with Adam’s Secret. As of yet, no consumer injuries have been reported.

Sabrina Emms is a science journalist. She got her start as an intern at a health and science podcast out of Philadelphia public radio. Before that she worked as a researcher, looking at the way bones are formed. When out of the lab and away from her computer, she's moonlighted as a pig vet's assistant and a bagel baker.

Loading...
Join the Discussion