A multi-state outbreak of listeriosis, or Listeria bacteria, reportedly found in cantaloupe grown in southern Colorado, has infected 22 and killed two in seven states since Monday.
Jensen Farms, of Holly, CO on Thursday became the first farm to recall all shipments of Rocky Ford region whole cantaloupe, where the fruit is possibly contaminated by Listeria monocytogenes, a rare, yet, serious infection often caused by eating contaminated food.
“Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third party safety audits, as we have for many years. We continually look for ways to enhance our protocol,” said Ryan Jensen, partner at Jensen Farms, a family farm in Holly, CO.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began coordinating the investigation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Monday after the outbreak spread to three states.
Jensen said a statewide notice noting the high risk of infection to Colorado residents prompted the recall.
After New Mexico state officials issued a recall notice Wednesday, Jensen Farms announced it would also recall the tainted fruit, which are shipped from July 29 through September 10, 2011, and distributed to at least 17 states with possible further distribution, according to the FDA.
The whole cantaloupes have a green and white sticker that reads: Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads: Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords, wrote FDA officials.
As of Sept. 14, at least 22 cases of the illness have been reported, 12 in Colorado, four in New Mexico, two in Texas, and one each in West Virginia, Indiana, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, according to the CDC.
Two deaths have also been reported, one in Colorado and one in New Mexico.
Symptoms of the infection include fever and muscle aches, diarrhea, headaches, stiff neck and confusion, the Colorado health department said.
CDC officials said people in the high-risk groups for contracting the infection should avoid unpasteurized soft cheeses, refrigerated smoked seafood, and deli meats unless they have been reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Del Monte Fresh Produce, a major seller of cantaloupe in the United States, issued a major recall of cantaloupes harvested from a single farm in Guatemala after federal health officials associated the fruit with an outbreak of Salmonella Panama that sickened 20 people in 10 states, according to a statement from the company.