Listeria found in Colorado farm’s cantaloupe, on packing equipment; 4 dead, 31 sick

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced today it found Listeria monocytogenes in samples of Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe taken from a Denver-area store and on samples taken from equipment and cantaloupe at the Jensen Farms’ packing facility. Tests confirmed that the Listeria monocytogenes found in the samples matches one of the three different strains of Listeria monocytogenes associated with the multi-state outbreak of listeriosis.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control updated the official outbreak count to 35 persons infected with the outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes, including four deaths, from 10 states.

Jensen Farms voluntarily recalled its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes a week ago in response to the multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. Cantaloupes from other farms in Colorado, including farms in the Rocky Ford growing area, have not been linked to this outbreak.

Jensen Farms is helping federal and state authorities determine how the cantaloupes became contaminated.

The FDA’s root-cause investigation and environmental assessment includes the on-site expertise of FDA and state of Colorado microbiologists, environmental health specialists, veterinarians and investigative officers. The experts conducting the assessment will analyze the evidence, determine the most likely cause of contamination and identify potential controls to help prevent contamination in the future. The FDA will use the findings to help inform agency policy regarding Listeria and produce food safety best practices.

Jensen Farms shipped the recalled cantaloupes from July 29 through Sept. 10 to at least 17 states with possible further distribution.

For additional information about the recalled products, including product labels: http://www.fda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm271879.htm.

A table of cantaloupe- (or rock melon) related outbreaks is available at http://bites.ksu.edu/cantaloupe-related-outbreaks.