Cantaloupe Outbreak Causes Listeriosis

(September 30, 2011) More and more Americans are trying to increase their fruit and vegetable intake to maintain healthful diets.  We are being told to eat several servings of fruits and veggies, especially colorful ones, for their beta carotene benefits.  Who would ever think having some brightly colored cantaloupe produced here in the USA could endanger our lives?

As of Friday, contaminated cantaloupe has affected 84 people, including 15 fatalities in 8 states; 5 in New Mexico, 3 in Colorado, 2 in Texas and one in Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.  Colorado has reported 17 cases and New Mexico 13 cases in the past two months.  This is the deadliest food related outbreak in the US since 1998 when 21 people died from listeria infected hot dogs and deli meat by Bil Mar foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corp.  In 1985 listeria killed 52 people resulting from contaminated Mexican soft cheese.

Listeria is more deadly than salmonella and E.coli, although they generally cause more illnesses.  Listeria mostly affects the elderly, those with compromised immune systems and pregnant women.  According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control), the average age of those affected is 78 years and that 1/5 of patients with listeria can die.

Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC said, “This is the deadliest outbreak of a food borne disease that we’ve identified in more than a decade.  For the public, it is important to know that if you know the cantaloupe you have is not Jensen Farms, than it’s OK to eat.  But if you’re in doubt, throw it out.”

The cause of this outbreak continues to be investigated, including the possibility of animal or water contamination as well as the harvesting practices of the farm.  Meanwhile, the number of infected people climbs daily as the incubation period is up to two months for those infected to develop listeriosis.

Latest warning:  Cantaloupe associated with listeria outbreak has been sold in western New York.  Cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado was sold in pre-cut packages at Wegman’s supermarkets in Erie and Niagara County.  The grocery chain is sending automatic phone alerts to customers who purchased the cantaloupe, as reported by Buffalo News.  The cantaloupe skin is contaminated with listeria, which is a bacterium that causes fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and muscle aches. Symptoms can take several weeks to appear.  The infection usually spreads to the GI tract.  It causes miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women.

Jensen Farms has voluntarily recalled their shipment of Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe to:  Illinois, Wyoming, Tennessee, Utah, Texas, Colorado, Minnesota, Kansas, New Mexico, North Carolina, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania.  They have 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 reads:  Jensen Farms – Sweet Rocky Fords.

If you have been affected from contaminated cantaloupe, you may be entitled to some damages. Please stop by our website or call one of our attorneys at 1-800-246-4878.

 

 

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