Entries in Listeriosis (9)


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


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


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


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


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


Latest Listeria Scare Involves Romaine Lettuce

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- First, it was cantaloupes.  Now, you have to worry about green leafy vegetables.

On the heels of the latest food borne illness outbreak comes news that certain chopped romaine lettuce may be contaminated with listeria, the same bacteria that has led to at least 16 deaths from tainted cantaloupes that were grown in Colorado and shipped nationwide.

The lettuce that has health officials concerned is from True Leaf Farms in Salinas, California, which is recalling 90 cartons sent to an Oregon distributor.

True Leaf Farms was notified of the possible contamination after the Food and Drug Administration said a sample taken from a bag of chopped romaine lettuce tested positive for listeria.

The cartons are being recalled from Oregon, Washington state and Idaho.  So far, there have been no reports of anyone sickened from the lettuce.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Beef, Cantaloupe Recalls: Tips for Preventing E. Coli, Listeriosis

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Tyson Fresh Meats Inc. is recalling 131,000 pounds of ground beef that may have been contaminated with E. coli, U.S. Dept. of Agriculture officials said Wednesday.

This comes on the heels of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s assessment earlier Wednesday that the outbreak of listeria among cantaloupe from Colorado’s Jensen Farms has been the deadliest in a decade.

The CDC put the death toll from listeria poisoning at 13, while 72 people have been infected.

To date, there have been no reported illnesses connected to Tyson's voluntary beef recall.

Symptoms of listeriosis begins with muscle aches and high fever.

E.coli is often associated with severe diarrhea and vomiting.

You should consult a physician if you suspect you have been infected with either of the bacteria.

High-risk groups for both bacteria include the elderly, pregnant women, infants and others with compromised immune systems.

If you are concerned that you have bought contaminated products, there are steps you can take to help prevent E. coli and listeriosis in your household:

-- The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration recommend that you immediately throw away any food that was recalled and you think could be contaminated. For ground beef, all the products recalled have a “Best Before” or “Freeze Before” date of Sept. 12, 2011. Click here for more information from the USDA on specific brands that were affected. For cantaloupe, Jensen’s Amy Philpott told ABC News the farm shipped more than 300,000 cases across the U.S. between July 29 and Sept. 10. The farm voluntarily recalled its cantaloupes on Sept. 14 in response to the multi-state outbreak of listeria.

-- Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria from the cantaloupe. It could seep into the inside of the fruit.

-- It’s recommended that you wipe down with bleach the inside and door handle on your refrigerator, as well as your kitchen surfaces and cutting boards, if you believe you bought contaminated products.


Here are additional everyday tips you can follow to prevent a listeriosis or E. coli contamination, recommended by the CDC:

-- Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources such as beef, pork or poultry to a safe internal temperature.

-- Rinse raw vegetables thoroughly under running water before eating.

-- Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

-- Do not drink raw and unpasteurized milk and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.

-- Eat perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

-- Clean up spills in your refrigerator right away.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Death Toll from Listeria-Contaminated Cantaloupes Grows

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Public health officials said Tuesday that the country is in the midst of the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in more than a decade.

So far, 72 illnesses -- including 13 deaths -- have been linked to cantaloupes contaminated with listeria that came from Jensen Farms in Colorado, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported Tuesday.

Illnesses from the recalled melons, which were sold under the name Rocky Ford cantaloupes, have been reported in 18 states; deaths have been reported in Colorado (2), Kansas (1), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Nebraska (1), New Mexico (4), Oklahoma (1), and Texas (2).

The CDC says it expects to see more cases of listeriosis next month "because patients can develop listeriosis up to 2 months after eating contaminated food."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Colorado Farm Confirms Listeria Found in Cantaloupe; Faces Lawsuit

Medioimages/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The FDA announced a recall Thursday for cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, after the Colorado company confirmed that one of its Rocky Ford melons had tested positive for the bacterium Listeria.

The farm had previously voluntarily recalled shipment of its cantaloupes to 17 states, but it is not clear if those fruits are linked to the two confirmed deaths and 22 cases of listeriosis -- a potentially deadly infection.  The melons were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the current Listeria outbreak is the first tied to cantaloupe in the U.S.  Cases have been reported in seven states and Colorado officials have told retailers to remove Jensen's cantaloupes from the shelves.

KMGH-TV, an ABC New affiliate in Denver, reported Thursday that a couple was expected to file the first lawsuit related to the outbreak after the husband ate a Jensen cantaloupe and got sick.  He tested positive for listeriosis and remains hospitalized.

According to the CDC, listeriosis is a serious infection caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.  It primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and adults with weakened immune systems.  Rarely, persons without these risk factors can be infected.

A person with the infection usually has a fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions often preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.  Pregnant women typically experience flu-like illness but infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery or infections in the newborn.

The CDC says that an estimated 1,600 people become seriously ill with listeriosis every year and of these people, 260 die.  A blood or spinal fluid test to look for the bacteria is used to diagnose the infection.  Antibiotics given promptly can cure the illness and prevent infection in the fetus.  But even with treatment, some infections can lead to death, especially in at-risk adults.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio