Ohio is one of at least 25 states that Listeria infected cantaloupes have been shipped to. According to the FDA, the cantaloupes have been traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes distributed by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colorado; shipments from July 29 through September 10th. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that within the United States this ranks to be the deadliest outbreak in over a decade with confirmed cases of 72 sickened, 13 dead and concerns 18 states. Confirmed cases local to Ohio bordering states are Indiana and West Virginia. Although supermarkets have pulled the loupes from market, the concern of the FDA is the questionable number of contaminated loupes that are left in the homes of the consumers for further consumption across the nation. Because of this factor, it is probably in your best interest; providing you have a cantaloupe in your possession that you are weary of, to utilize the questionable food rule which is “when in doubt throw it out!” and then wash contacted surfaces as well as hands; with warm soapy water in order to clean further contaminated areas.
As for the facts, Listeria monocytogenes is bacteria that are found in soil and water which contaminates food causing listeriosis; an infection and food borne illness. It can contaminate raw foods as well as processed foods and foods made from unpasteurized milk. What adds weight to the concern of Listeria monocytogenes bacteria is that refrigeration does not slow or kill the bacteria; it continues to grow in cold temperatures. Anyone can contract this bacterium from a contaminated source; however, those most likely to encounter the affects are older adults, people with weakened immune systems and pregnant women and unborn babies. In general, reported cases have ranged from the ages of 35 to 95 years of age. The symptoms include: fever, chills, headache, upset stomach and vomiting and can be confused as flu this time of year.
The CDC offers directives to reduce your risk of contamination to this bacterium which include thoroughly washing all fruits and vegetables. Avoid raw meats and seafood as well as raw milk products. Thoroughly heat all ready to eat-pre-prepared foods and left over’s to steaming hot in order to kill bacteria that causes food borne illness. Of course, common sense reveals the need to avoid cantaloupes purchased recently as a safety precaution until this concern is lifted by the FDA. Listeria however is not the only bacterium that we are continually subject to. It is one of a list in addition to Salmonella and E-coli. The CDC estimates in confirmation of cases concerning tainted food reports in a year to be over 48 million annually. Listeria is currently on watch across the U.S. due to reported cases, deaths and confirmed shipments with contaminated findings of the Rocky Ford cantaloupes. In order to better protect one’s self, no matter the food source; grocer, market or garden harvest, prepare all foods utilizing safety precautions and when in doubt, pitch the food and stay healthy.