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  1. CFSAN Constituent Updates

FDA Releases Prevention Strategy to Enhance the Safety of Soft Fresh Queso Fresco-Type Cheeses

Constituent Update

March 20, 2023

The FDA has released a summary of a new strategy aimed at reducing foodborne outbreaks and illness associated with the consumption of soft fresh Queso Fresco type cheeses.

Between 2014-2017, the FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network investigated five listeriosis outbreaks linked to the consumption of soft fresh queso fresco type (QFT) cheeses. Most recently, in 2021 CORE investigated an outbreak linked to soft fresh QFT cheeses that sickened 13 people. Historically, outbreaks associated with queso fresco type cheeses were found to be associated with unpasteurized milk; however, recent investigations have found these cheeses have been made from pasteurized milk with contamination occurring during the cheese making process.

The prevention strategy reflects a review of outbreak findings, historical data and stakeholder engagement with industry and other stakeholders to identify public health interventions that can be taken to reduce future incidences of foodborne illness linked to soft fresh QFT cheeses. As part of the prevention strategy the Agency has also released a fact sheet to help manufacturers of soft queso fresco-type cheeses better understand food safety risks the can occur during production. The fact sheet also identifies food safety resources available to manufacturers.

Prevention Strategies are an affirmative, deliberate approach undertaken by the FDA and stakeholders to help limit or prevent future outbreaks. They build on the foundational work established by the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) and the FDA Strategy for the Safety of Imported Food, while leveraging data enhancements and modern approaches included in FDA’s New Era of Smarter Food Safety. They also advance the goals set forth in FDA’ Foodborne Outbreak Response Improvement Plan.

Collaboration is critical for food safety success and the prevention of foodborne illness. For more information visit FDA’s Prevention strategies to Enhance Food Safety webpage, or contact FoodSafetyPreventionStrategies@fda.hhs.gov.

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