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Entries in Cantaloupes (15)

Saturday
Aug182012

Cantaloupes Blamed for 141 Salmonella Cases, Including Two Deaths

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Health officials have learned that cantaloupes are to blame for a salmonella outbreak that has infected 141 people in 20 states, sending 31 people to the hospital and killing two.

More than a third of those salmonella Typhimurium cases happened in Kentucky, which is also where both deaths occurred, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The bad melons came from a farm in southwestern Indiana, according to the CDC, which cites an investigation by federal, state, and local agencies. Officials interviewed 24 ill patients, and discovered that 18 ate cantaloupes prior to becoming ill.

They then found the bacteria in two cantaloupes purchased at a grocery store.

Cantaloupes often bear a sticker that says where they were grown, so health officials have advised consumers to check the sticker and throw away melons from Indiana.

"If no sticker is present, consumers should inquire about the source," a CDC page devoted to the outbreak says. "When in doubt, throw it out."

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting and cramps, which develop between 12 and 72 hours of infection.

The illness usually runs four to seven days, unless the person is hospitalized with a severe case.

The infection originates in the intestine, but it can spread to the blood stream and other parts of the body, which can lead to death without proper treatment.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Jan102012

Deadly Cantaloupe Outbreak Blamed on Bad Audits

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The deadliest recorded outbreak of foodborne illness in U.S. history resulted from a system of self-regulation that has repeatedly failed to protect the public, a congressional investigation released to ABC News on Tuesday concludes.

Late last year, at least 30 deaths and one miscarriage were caused by listeriosis linked to cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Colorado. But long before the outbreak, Jensen Farms had repeatedly received a clean bill of health from an independent company hired by the owners to review food safety practices.

But rather than help keep the melons safe, a new report from Congress reveals that those auditors helped put in place practices that led to the outbreak.

“It appears that the auditors who inspected Jensen Farms did more than simply overlook egregious food safety practices,” the report says. “They specifically recommended these practices.”

Auditors also warned Jensen Farms, sometimes weeks in advance, before inspections. And when problems were found, the auditors still gave Jensen Farms glowing reviews and failed to notify the FDA.

“These problems are unlikely to be limited to Jensen Farms, however. The officials the committee interviewed indicated that the practices used at Jensen Farms are similar to those used in thousands of other food safety inspections,” the report reads.

Bad audits also were blamed for the 2009 outbreak of salmonella linked to the Peanut Corporation of America and to the 2010 outbreak of salmonella linked to Wright County Egg.
 
The FDA is charged with inspecting produce farms and facilities. But the agency is unable to visit more than once every few years. In the interim, the produce industry relies on third-party auditors.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov032011

Listeria Outbreak Linked to Cantaloupes Now Deadliest Foodborne Outbreak in US History

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The death toll from the listeria outbreak that's been traced back to Colorado cantaloupes has now climbed to 29, officially making it the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak ever recorded in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the increase in the total number of deaths earlier this week, and noted that the number of people infected has gone up to 139 in 28 states.

On Wednesday night, a CDC official confirmed that this latest food-borne illness outbreak was the deadliest on record, surpassing the one linked to listeria-tainted cheese that killed 28 people in Mexico in 1985.

"There were 28 deaths (adults as well as infants) and 20 miscarriages and stillborns from Jalisco,” the official said in an email.  “No other outbreak in recent times, since we began collecting/recording data in 1973 comes close.  Of course the system for collecting and tracking foodborne disease is much more precise now.”

The outbreak stemming from the listeria-tainted cantaloupes began in August.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct262011

Tainted Cantaloupe Blamed for Another Three Deaths

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Twenty-eight people have died and one woman has miscarried since the beginning of the listeria outbreak that’s been traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week. These latest figures are up from the 25 deaths and the miscarriage that were all on record a week ago.

Ten more people were reported sick as a result of the outbreak in the week since the CDC last reported figures, bringing that total to 133 cases.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct192011

Dirty Farm Equipment Likely Behind Listeria Outbreak

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has found that the deadly listeria outbreak in cantaloupe that killed 25 people was probably caused by packing equipment and pools of water on the floor near equipment and employee walkways at Jensen Farms in Colorado.

An FDA assessment of conditions at the farm found that Jensen Farms had recently purchased packing equipment that was not easily cleaned and sanitized. The equipment had been previously used in potato production, an FDA adviser said.

“This was brought into the facility, part of a new practice,” Sherri McGarry told reporters on a background conference call.

The floors of the packing facility were also hard to clean, so pools of water that could have harbored bacteria were close to equipment at Jensen Farms.

During an investigation of the facility, the FDA found a truck used to haul culled cantaloupe that parked adjacent to the packing facility could have introduced contamination into the facility.

The FDA also found that the growth of listeria monocytogenes could have occurred as the result of how the cantaloupes were cooled after coming off the fields. Jensen Farms told the FDA it did not pre-cool its cantaloupe to remove condensation before cold storage. Pre-cooling is used to remove the heat in cantaloupes to protect them from bacterial growth.

McGarry said the investigation of Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo., is still ongoing so there is additional information the FDA has found that it cannot share.

Jensen Farms agreed earlier this week to FDA inspections of its growing, packaging and cold storage operations before it resumes food harvesting, packaging or processing. The company also says it will correct all concerns noted during the FDA inspections.

Health officials continue to monitor the outbreak, which is the deadliest food-borne outbreak in the United States in more than 25 years. There have been 123 cases, and 25 deaths, in 26 states.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct192011

Why Are We Still Dealing with Listeria?

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Although voluntary recalls have removed what the Centers for Disease Control identified as listeria-contaminated cantaloupe from the shelves, the numbers of illnesses and deaths continue to climb. According to the CDC’s most recent numbers, 123 people have been infected with one of the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes and 25 have died, up from the 18 deaths reported as of Oct. 4.

Pennsylvania has now reported its first illness, making it the 26th state to report an illness, the CDC reported Tuesday.

Jensen Farms in California and Kansas food processor Carol’s Cuts – two suspected sources of the outbreak – voluntarily recalled their cantaloupes back in September, so why do the cases of listeria continue to mount?

It has to do with the incubation of the illness. Someone who ate contaminated food might not develop listeriosis, the infection associated with the listeria bacteria, until months later.

“More ill persons may be reported because of the time lag between diagnosis and laboratory confirmation and also because up to two months can elapse between eating contaminated food and developing listeriosis,” the CDC wrote in an investigation update Tuesday.

Older adults, people with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns are most at risk for developing listeriosis. Anyone who thinks they have become ill from eating contaminated cantaloupes should consult their doctor immediately, the CDC wrote.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct072011

Listeria-Tainted Cantaloupe: Death Toll Rises to 21

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Twenty-one people have died as a result of listeria contamination linked to cantaloupes from Colorado-based Jensen Farms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

The CDC had previously listed the number of deaths connected to the outbreak at 18. A total of 109 people have reported illnesses believed to have come as a result of the outbreak.

Jensen Farms, based out of Holly, Colo., recalled millions of its cantaloupes on Sept. 14.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

Iowa Reports State's First Illness Linked to Listeria

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(DE MOINES) – The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) has reported the state’s first illness linked to the listeria outbreak associated with cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado.

The Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) would not identify the woman, other than to say she is an adult between the age of 18 and 40 living in Northwest Iowa. IDPH Medical Director Dr. Patricia Quinlisk said the woman, who has since recovered, had been infected with a strain of listeria monocytogenes that matched the strain detected in cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado -- the place at the center of the investigation into the listeriosis outbreak.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention identified 100 cases associated with the outbreak in 20 states as of Monday morning, prior to Iowa's inclusion on the list. Nationwide, the case is the third known to have involved women who were pregnant when they fell ill. The CDC reported Tuesday that two other women were pregnant at the time they were infected and that their pregnancies were being monitored.

According to the CDC, pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get the bacterial infection, and roughly 17 percent of listeriosis cases occur during pregnancy.

The CDC lists foods such as hot dogs, luncheon meats and certain cheeses as listeria risks for pregnant women. Cantaloupes are not generally considered to be unsafe. That, along with the fact that the incubation time of the illness can be lengthy, has confounded investigators.

Listeria can cause fever, stiffness in the neck, confusion and vomiting. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk for serious symptoms. However, not everyone who is exposed to the bacteria develops illness, Quinlisk said -- a fact that makes tracking the source of such infections even more difficult for investigators.

Although there have other listeria outbreaks in recent years, this is the first one attributed to whole cantaloupes, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct052011

More Deaths Confirmed from Cantaloupes in Listeria Outbreak

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In what's been deemed by public health officials as the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade, the number of people sickened by listeria-tainted cantaloupes has gone up yet again.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Tuesday that 100 illnesses, including 18 deaths, have now been reported; that’s up from the 15 deaths and 84 illnesses that were confirmed on Friday.

Illnesses from the recalled melons, which came from Jensen Farms in Colorado and were sold under the name Rocky Ford cantaloupes, have been reported in 20 states: Colorado (5), Kansas (2), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (5), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (2).

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep302011

Two More Deaths from Listeria and Cantaloupe

Sony/Legacy Recordings(WASHINGTON) -- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now confirms 84 illnesses, including 15 deaths, from listeria linked to Jensen Farms cantaloupe; that's up from Wednesday, when the agency reported 72 illnesses, including 13 deaths.

On Wednesday, CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters, "This is the deadliest outbreak of a foodborne disease that we've identified in more than a decade."

Before this, the most lethal foodborne illness outbreak in a generation was a 2008 salmonella contamination involving peanut butter that resulted in 691 cases and nine deaths.

In 1985, Mexican-style cheese caused listeria infection in 86 people, killing 29 of them.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio







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