TOPEKA -- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued its environmental assessment report of Jensen Farms on Oct. 19.
The report lists a number of environmental factors that most likely led to the contamination of cantaloupe with the pathogen Listeria monocytogenes at Colorado-based Jensen Farms, which was implicated in a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. Contributing factors observed included those in the growing environment as well as in the packing facility and cold storage. The full report can be accessed at http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodborneIllness
Kansas has now had 10 cases of listeriosis, including three deaths, definitively linked to the multistate outbreak. The three additional cases from the last update provided by KDHE on Sept. 22 have been linked to the multistate outbreak as a result of additional laboratory tests on previously reported cases. Typically, Kansas reports fewer than six cases of listeriosis per year.
Listeriosis primarily occurs among older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. People with these symptoms should consult a physician. Symptoms typically occur three to 70 days after exposure.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the Kansas Department of Agriculture (KDA) supports food safety along the farm-to-table continuum and recommends that people should wash their hands before and after handling melon. The surface of melons should be washed and dried with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Cut melon should be promptly refrigerated at less than 41ºF. Cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours should be discarded.
For additional information regarding this outbreak, visit the CDC multistate foodborne illness outbreak page at http://www.cdc.gov/outbreaknet/outbreaks.htm and the FDA recall media release at http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm271879.htm .