More than 72 people are sick and 13 have been killed due to an outbreak of the listeria bacteria in cantaloupe that has affected 18 states around the country, and already become the worst outbreak of foodborne illness in over 10 years.
Federal Food and Drug Administration officials have detected evidence of the outbreak strains of listeria in packing houses and on equipment at the site. Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of the whole fruit on Sept. 14; Carol’s Cuts LLC, a Kansas food processor, issued a recall for nearly 600 pounds of cut fresh cantaloupe and fruit medley containing cantaloupe on Friday.
The Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10 to Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. –MSNBC
Most of those affected have eaten whole Rocky Ford cantaloupes that were grown and shipped by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colorado. The cantaloupes have been recalled, but the CDC is worried that people who don’t hear about the recall will eat the cantaloupes they already have at home.
In healthy people, listeria causes no more than mild illness. But in the elderly and in those with compromised immune systems, it can cause severe complications. Pregnant women can also miscarry as a result of eating listeria-contaminated foods.
Listeria is a tricky bacteria to trace because people can start showing symptoms of illness up to several weeks after eating contaminated food.
If you have cantaloupe at home that you suspect may be affect, please do not eat it and discard it immediately. If you suspect you have eaten contaminated cantaloupe, contact your health care professional as soon as possible.