Fruit At Center Of Outbreak Linked To Little Apple

By: Lindsey Rogers Email
By: Lindsey Rogers Email

Manhattan, KAN. (WIBW) -- Cantaloupes that are being linked to a deadly bacteria strain have been traced to Manhattan.

A multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis has led to nearly 100 illnesses and 15 deaths. Listeriosis is a dangerous infection caused by eating food contaminated with bacteria.

On September 14, 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revealed that Jensen Farms out of Granada, Colorado voluntarily recalled Rocky Ford cantaloupes shipped from July through September 10 and distributed to at least 17 states because they were potentially contaminated with the bacteria.

Terri Olsen, owner of the Westside and Eastside Markets in Manhattan, says she received one pallet of cantaloupes from Jensen Farms through Liberty Fruit Company (based out of Kansas City, KS) on August 10, 2011.

Nine other pallets of cantaloupes came from other farms, she said. According to Olsen, Rocky Ford cantaloupes are only in season from late July to early September and she was not told about the possible infection until several weeks after the fruit was sold.

While none of her customers have reported any illnesses, Olsen is encouraging anyone who bought the fruit in recent weeks to get checked by their doctor, since symptoms (including nausea, diarrhea, body aches, and fever) can occur several weeks after the cantaloupe was consumed. Olsen says pregnant women and the elderly are most at risk and that antibiotics will treat the infection.

Fort Riley’s Commissary receives produce shipments from Liberty Fruit Company but public affairs officials confirmed to WIBW that the grocery store does not carry Rocky Ford cantaloupes.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following bullet points on their website for the multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis linked to whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado:

• As of 11am EDT on September 29, 2011, a total of 84 persons infected with any of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported to CDC from 19 states. All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) California (1), Colorado (17), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (13), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (11), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (2).

• Fifteen deaths have been reported: 3 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 5 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

• On September 14, 2011, FDA issued a press release to announce that Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes after being linked to a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis.

• Although Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes on September 14 and the recalled cantaloupe should be off store shelves, more ill persons may be reported because of the time lag between diagnosis and laboratory confirmation and also because up to 2 months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis.

• CDC recommends that consumers not eat Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from Jensen farms. This is especially important for older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.

• Even if some of the cantaloupe has been eaten without becoming ill, dispose of the rest of the cantaloupe immediately. Listeria bacteria can grow in the cantaloupe at room and refrigerator temperatures.

• Cantaloupes that are known to NOT have come from Jensen Farms are safe to eat. If consumers are uncertain about the source of a cantaloupe for purchase, they should ask the grocery store. A cantaloupe purchased from an unknown source should be discarded: "when in doubt, throw it out."


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