Soft cheeses health threat to expectant mums

Cases of tuberculosis in New York City have been linked to queso fresco style cheeses which were imported from Mexico or consumed in Mexico, the cheese was found to be contaminated with Mycobacterium bovi which caused the infection.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is warning that some soft cheeses made with raw milk may be a health risk, especially to pregnant women, newborns, older adults, and people with weakened immune systems. These cheeses can cause several serious infectious diseases including listeriosis, brucellosis, salmonellosis and tuberculosis.

The cheeses causing the most concern originate from Mexico and Central America. Queso fresco style cheese, which is soft and white, has been found to be the most popular kind of cheese among the Hispanic community and can include Queso Panela, Asadero and Blanco, imported or produced in the U.S.

Data has shown that they are often contaminated with pathogens. The FDA advises consumers not to purchase or consume raw milk soft cheeses from sources such as flea markets, sellers operating door-to-door or out of their trucks, or shipped or carried in luggage to them from Mexico, Nicaragua, or Honduras. This includes cheeses made at home by individuals.

They also recommend that consumers do not eat any unripened raw milk soft cheeses from Mexico, Nicaragua, or Honduras, and state that there is some risk of infection from a number of pathogenic bacteria for anyone who eats raw milk soft cheese from any source.

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