Listeria-Contaminated Cantaloupe Sickens Consumers in Missouri

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Defective Products on Thursday, September 22, 2011

Whole cantaloupe that was sold in several U.S. states has killed eight people and sickened at least 57, including two people in Missouri, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Sept. 21. The cantaloupe, which has been recalled, was infected with listeria, a bacteria that is especially dangerous to older people, pregnant women and those with a weakened immune system. The outbreak is the deadliest in the county in about three years.

The tainted Rocky Ford cantaloupes were grown at Jensen Farms, a Colorado company. They were shipped to store shelves in at least 17 states, including Missouri, between July 29 and Sept. 10. As part of the recall, health officials throughout Missouri are searching grocery stores to see if they are still selling the contaminated produce. As of Sept. 21, it appears all of them have been thrown away.

So far, eight people have died after eating the listeria-contaminated cantaloupe, and 57 people in 15 states have become ill. That number could go up in the coming days because listeria can grow both at room temperature and in the refrigerator. Out of the two reported cases from southwest Missouri, one was a 94-year-old woman who died, but authorities have not determined whether the listeria poisoning was the official cause of death.

When consumed, listeria can cause fever, muscle aches and digestive problems. While it may not affect healthy adults, older people and people with lowered immune systems are vulnerable to becoming ill. Fetuses are also at risk when their mothers consume listeria-contaminated food.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, “Two in Missouri sickened by recalled cantaloupe,” Sept. 21, 2011

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