Jewish Journal


September 16, 2011

Contaminated Cantaloupes Responsible for Listeria Outbreak



My regular readers know I have a bit of an obsession with food-borne illness. Why? Because it’s such a difficult and old problem. (Obviously germs have been contaminating food and sickening animals long before people were around.) Modern sanitation and farming have made our food much safer, but occasional outbreaks remind us that our current methods are still imperfect.

This week an outbreak of the bacterium Listeria has sickened over 20 people in seven states. (California has not been affected.) Two people have died.

The outbreak has been traced to cantaloupes grown in Jensen Farms, in Colorado. The FDA has announced a recall on cantaloupes from that farm. (California is not one of the states to which the cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were distributed.)

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has an information page on Listeria infection with some handy common-sense tips for preventing illness, including:

  • Thoroughly cook raw beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature.
  • Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running tap water before eating.
  • Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.
  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.
  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

Follow the link for more suggestions.

Technology has made our food supply much safer, but we still have room for improvement.

Learn more:

FDA warns about cantaloupe linked to illness, deaths (LA Times)

FDA Ties Listeria to Cantaloupes (Wall Street Journal)

Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Rocky Ford Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms (CDC update)

Listeriosis (CDC information page)

Jensen Farms Recalls Cantaloupe Due to Possible Health Risk (FDA recall notice)

My previous posts about food-borne illness:

When the Stool Hits the Sprouts

Germany Struck by Major Food Poisoning Outbreak

Your Food Is Pretty Safe, But it’s Not Getting Safer

Would You Like Some Salmonella With That?

Gamma Rays are Good for Your Veggies


Your Food Is Pretty Safe, But it’s Not Getting Safer


Would You Like Some Salmonella With That?


Gamma Rays are Good for Your Veggies


Important legal mumbo jumbo:
Anything you read on the web should be used to supplement, not replace, your doctor’s advice.  Anything that I write is no exception.  I’m a doctor, but I’m not your doctor.

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