Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Tainted Fruit of the Month - Cantaloupe

An outbreak of illness linked to consumption of tainted cantaloupes has been linked to 13 deaths and 72 illnesses in 18 states, a federal disease agency reported Wednesday.

The outbreak -- blamed on the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes -- was first reported September 12, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 15 people in four states had been infected. The illnesses were traced to consumption of Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms' fields in Granada, Colorado.

The deaths reported as of Tuesday morning occurred in Colorado (two), Kansas (one), Maryland (one), Missouri (one), Nebraska (one), New Mexico (four), Oklahoma (one), and Texas (two).

The illnesses occurred in those states as well as in California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Montana, North Dakota, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

13 dead after eating cantaloupe

New E. coli contamination scare Listeriosis primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC website.

Jensen Farms, which is based in Holly, Colorado, is voluntarily recalling Rocky Ford whole cantaloupes that were shipped between July 29 and September 10 and distributed to Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

The cantaloupes bear a green-and-white sticker that reads: Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that says: Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords.

Unlabeled whole cantaloupe should be taken to the retailer for sourcing information, the FDA said.


Freddallas said...

It's already the deadliest such outbreak in the U.S. since 1998. Seventy-two cases have been reported in 18 states so far and the death toll is expected to rise. Listeria is more dangerous than other pathogens such as salmonella and E. coli.

Freddallas said...

"That long incubation period is a real problem," Dr Robert Tauxe of the CDC said.

"People who ate a contaminated food two weeks ago or even a week ago could still be falling sick weeks later."

Most healthy adults are unlikely to suffer ill effects from listeria, however, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable.

Correspondents say the median age of those affected is 78.

Since 31 July, incidents have been reported in 18 US states with fatalities confirmed in areas as far apart as Texas, New Mexico and Maryland.

Listeria bacteria can grow at room temperature, even refrigerator temperatures, unlike many other pathogens.

The CDC and US Food and Drug Administration have advised that all potentially contaminated produce is thrown away immediately, and that any surfaces it may have touched are sanitised.

In 1988, 21 people died in a listeria outbreak from contaminated hot dogs, while in 1985, 52 deaths were linked to listeria contamination in Mexican-style soft cheese.

The CDC says around 800 listeria cases are reported in the US each year.