Thursday, September 29, 2011

Traveler's Alert: Visitors to US Need to be Alert to Contaminated Cantaloupes

As the death toll from the listeria outbreak in the US climbs, the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has confirmed 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths, from listeriosis linked to whole melons grown by Jensen Farms in Holly, CO. Three other deaths are currently under investigation. Cantaloupes usually don't last for more than two weeks in the refrigerator and the melons were recalled on September 14, yet health officials still are urging consumers to check to see where any whole cantaloupes are from.

COMMENT: "If it's not from Jensen Farms, it's OK to eat. But if you're in doubt, throw it out," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said during a Wednesday (September 28) briefing. The farm, which sells many of its cantaloupes under the Rocky Ford label, has ended its harvest season and is no longer producing melons. Federal and state officials still don't know how the cantaloupes came to be contaminated, but authorities have been investigating the farm for evidence that animals possibly strayed into the fields. They also are examining water quality, growing, harvest and processing practices and how the cantaloupes were stored.

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