At least 55 people in 14 states, including Colorado, have fallen ill with listeriosis, a condition triggered by a food-borne bacterium that causes muscle aches, abdominal pains, nausea, diarrhea, severe headaches and fever. The outbreak is also being blamed on 8 deaths, two of which occurred in Colorado.
If the bacteria spread from the intestines into the bloodstream and nervous system, it could cause meningitis and other complications. Small children, the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk. Unborn children too can be infected if their mother ingests food contaminated with listeria, which can lead to miscarriages or still births.
Listeria bacterium, officially known as L. monocytogenes, can live in the stomach for up to two months before causing symptoms. Blood work is required to properly diagnose listeriosis, which can be treated with antibiotics.
Blame for this recent listeria outbreak is being pinned on Rocky Ford variety cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colorado. Affected cantaloupes were distributed to stores and restaurants in 17 states between July 29th and September 10th.
The original recall for whole cantaloupes was announced on Sept. 14th by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration but was expanded on Sept. 23rd to include Carol’s Cuts fresh cut cantaloupe after further investigation found contamination on processing equipment.
Whole cantaloupes being recalled include 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.”
At least 3 lawsuits – two in Colorado and one in Texas – have been filed over the listeria outbreak. It’s expected more lawsuits will be filed as more cases come to light.
If you’ve purchased Rocky Ford cantaloupes recently, the company suggests you dispose of it immediately. If you have any questions, you can contact Jensen Farms directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (800) 267-4561 between 9:00 AM and 4:00 PM Mountain time.