listeria recall cantaloupes

Toss Your Melons: Listeria Outbreak Now Deadliest in a Decade

A Listeria outbreak tied to cantaloupes has killed 13 people thus far.

Toss Your Melons: Listeria Outbreak Now Deadliest in a Decade

Cut cantaloupe is more at risk of making you sick. Bacteria can travel from the skin to the meat of the fruit.

Editor's Note: This recall occurred in 2011. The Listeria outbreak traced back to Colorado cantaloupes is now the deadliest in a decade, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and CDC have linked 84 illnesses and 15 deaths to the outbreak, caused by cantaloupes grown in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado. Because Listeria can take anywhere from one day to two months to cause illness, both agencies anticipate even more illnesses. The FDA has pinpointed Jensen Farms of Colorado as the likely source of the outbreak, stemming from 300,000 cases of contaminated fruit that was shipped between July 29 and September 10, 2011. The agency is urging anyone with cantaloupes from the farm to throw them out. Farmers interviewed by a Denver news station said that the bacteria infected the outer shell of the contaminated produce, and in such cases, the bacteria can either spread to the meat of the fruit or infect food prep surfaces, such as cutting boards, and contaminate other foods. In addition, the agency announced on Tuesday that because some wholesalers and distributors may have further distributed the recalled cantaloupes to food processors, additional products that contain cantaloupe from Jensen Farms are likely to be recalled—and they have been. Carol’s Cuts, a Kansas-based food processor, is recalling 594 pounds of fresh-cut cantaloupe packaged in 5-pound trays as chunks and as an ingredient in 8-ounce mixed fruit medley that was distributed in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. (For an image of the recalled cut cantaloupe packaging, see the FDA's website). According to the CDC, Listeria is commonly found in soil and water, and typically crops up in meat and dairy products. But it can affect produce that passes through contaminated processing plants, where Listeria can live for years. Listeria can be killed during cooking, but that's not going to help disinfect contaminated cantaloupe. Listeriosis, the disease caused by the bacterium, is relatively rare in the U.S. but 20 to 30 percent of people who do contract it die. Pregnant women are among those most adversely affected by listeria and can suffer miscarriages if they eat contaminated food. Average healthy adults, however, will experience muscle aches and fever, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and sometimes convulsions. The contaminated cantaloupe was shipped to the following states: Arizona Colorado Illinois Indiana* Kansas Louisiana* Minnesota Missouri Nebraska New Jersey New Mexico New York North Carolina Oklahoma Pennsylvania Tennessee Texas Utah Wisconsin* Wyoming
*On Friday, Sept. 30, the FDA added Indiana, Louisiana, and Wisconsin to the list of states where the cantaloupe had been shipped. To determine whether you have any of the contaminated produce, look for one of the following stickers: • green and white sticker that reads "Product of USA - Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe" • a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads "Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords." If the cantaloupe is unlabeled, contact your retail store for sourcing information.


Published on: September 15, 2011

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This is scary and thanks for letting us know. But I am a vegetarian and am afraid of how I should watch out for this. I shop for my veggies at a local organic produce stand. Is that good enough? I just heard that lettuce is now suspected of having the bacteria.
Worried Veggie


Hey you nut job, our forefathers didn't have 6 billion people to feed. Also they lived to the rip old age of 30, I am betting they died from Listeria, they just didn't know what it was. It's a sad thing, but don't blame the farmers and ranchers, remember they are the ones providing you with food on your table, and its the pressures of the developing countries causing us to be bigger and produce more food. So don't blame the farmer.


The poor melons are not the culprit in this scenario. The corporate farms that do not properly take care of the waste from their hundreds, maybe thousands, of animals, and the waste is filtered into the streams and then into the waterways that provide water for our fruits and vegetables. If properly disposed of, the waste should be made into fertilizer. Our forefathers never had this problem. Everything on the farm was used, there was no waste.

Listeria Outbreak

Thank you for the list of states that received shipments of potentially harmful melons. Many reports do not list the states affected. I live in North Carolina, but out of a responsibility to my family, I would have checked the labels on melons to be sure they are not from this farm, regardless of my location. I encourage others to do the same, as the accuracy of this cannot be guaranteed.


For more responsible reporting - you should have listed the 17 states at the beginning of the notice.

"If you live in the following states - toss the melons."

There were/are 33 states where this was never a danger.
Linda D. Pellino

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