Listeria outbreak kills 15

By By Skylar Whitman Staff Writer


An outbreak of Listeriosis, a disease triggered by contaminated cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Granada, CO, has killed 15 people so far, making it the worst food safety event in over 10 years.


According to Jim Mulhern, the managing partner at Watson/Mulhern, a company specializing in nutrition, health and food sciences, listeria is commonly found in soil and water.


“Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meat and dairy products,” Mulhern said.


According to the official recall website for Jensen Farms’ cantaloupes, over 300,000 cases of cantaloupe were shipped to at least 15 states between July 29 and Sept. 10.


According to the Jensen Farms website, whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms with green and white stickers with the words “Product of USA Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh Rocky Ford Cantaloupe,” or a gray, yellow and green sticker labeled “Jensen Farms Sweet Rocky Fords,” are the cantaloupes which may contain Listeria.


The disease can take up to two months to show its symptoms, which according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website, include fever and muscle aches, often followed by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. The treatment consists of antibiotics.


However, even though it can be cured with antibiotics, many people are still nervous about the outbreak because it is especially dangerous for those with weakened immune systems, such as babies, pregnant women and the elderly.


“I haven’t had cantaloupe since I heard of this, which I don’t like because it’s my favorite fruit,” sophomore Abby McClive said.


According to a March 28 article in Food Safety News, an informational online newspaper devoted to reporting foodborne illness outbreaks and recalls, the cantaloupes’ rough skin can trap bacteria. The fruit can then become contaminated when the knife passes through the dirt on the outside of the fruit and onto the edible parts.