Los Angeles County’s public health officials are joining some of their counterparts in Utah by warning consumers NOT to purchase Latin American-style soft cheeses from unlicensed manufacturers or vendors because they may be unsafe to eat.

The dairy products that most concern LA County health officials are Queso Fresco, Panela, Queso Seco, Asadero, Queso Oaxaca, Queso Cotija and Cream, says Dr. Jonathan E. Fielding, the county’s director of public health.  

LA County is working with attorneys and federal agencies to have the potentially harmful products banned from sale.  "With licensed dairy products, you cannot be sure of what you’re getting," Fielding said.  "They may contain unpasteurized milk, have been made in unsanitary conditions and may be have been transported without refrigeration."

Fielding says the current sale of such cheeses by street vendors is a "recipe for disaster"  Consumers risk Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, bovine Tuberculosis and Brucella from the unsafe cheeses.

LA County health officials said safe handling of cheese requires: 1.) Keeping it refrigerated at 41 degrees Fahrenheit or below; 2.) Keeping it wrapped in plastic; 3.) Being sure everyone coming into contact with it had washed their hands with soap in warm water; 4.) Use different utensils to cut the cheese in order to avoid any cross contamination with meat, poultry or seafood.