Friday, January 13th, 2012
The outbreak of the bacteria listeria that claimed 30 lives, sickened 146, and triggered one miscarriage this summer and fall could have been avoided if inspectors had properly reported violations they observed at the cantaloupe farm where the outbreak originated.
The FDA cited “serious design flaws” and a “lack of awareness” of safety standards at Jensen Farms as the likely sources of the bacterial contamination behind the deaths. But in a report issued this week, congressional investigators found the company that conducted a July safety audit at the farm, Bio Food Safety, gave it near-perfect marks despite finding three “major deficiencies.”
In particular, it noted that the company washed its cantaloupe in water that was not treated with chlorine or any other anti-bacterial additive — a process the FDA said was inconsistent with its recommendations and “a probable cause of the contamination.” The inspector did not take points off for the finding, the report states.
The Centers for Disease Control declared the outbreak to be over, issuing its final report on the matter in December. Earlier this month, some brands of kosher cheese were recalled because of listeria concerns.
Image: Cantaloupe slice, via Shutterstock.
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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012
Several types of cheese made by the World Cheese Company under the kosher brand Haolam have been voluntarily recalled after a Wisconsin packaging facility that handles the cheese tested positive for listeria, a bacteria that is particularly dangerous to pregnant women.
The listeria-positive cheese was not, World Cheese Company emphasizes, the kosher cheese itself, but rather a separate brand that is only sold in Wisconsin. No Haolam cheese has tested positive for listeria.
Customers can return the recalled cheese products to the store for a full refund, including:
– All 8-ounce and 16-ounce bags of Haolam shredded cheese (Pizza, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Fancy, Muenster, R/F Muenster, R/F Cheddar), with an expiration of June 5, 2012, through Sept 4, 2012.
– All 32-ounce bags of Haolam shredded Mozzarella and Gourmet Blend with an expiration date of February 6, 2012, through May 7, 2012.
– All 5-pound bags of Haolam shredded Mozzarella, Cheddar and Muenster with a pack date of September 8, 2011, through Dec 7, 2011.
Miller’s Cheese Corp, another kosher cheese maker whose product was processed at the Wisconsin plant, announced a similar voluntary recall of shredded cheese products:
– All 8-ounce and 16-ounce bags of Miller’s shredded cheese (Pizza, Mozzarella, Cheddar, Fancy, Muenster), with an expiration of June 5, 2012, through Sept 4, 2012.
– All 32-ounce bags of Miller’s shredded Mozzarella with an expiration date of February 6, 2012, through May 7, 2012.
- All 5-pound bags of Miller’s shredded Mozzarella, Cheddar, Muenster and Monterey Jack with a pack date of September 8, 2011, through Dec 7, 2011.
This summer, a major listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupe claimed 30 lives and sickened nearly 150 people across America.
Image: Shredded cheese, via Shutterstock.
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Friday, December 9th, 2011
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released its final data on the outbreak of the bacteria listeria that was spread through tainted cantaloupes in the late summer and early fall. According to the CDC’s “Final Update,” published yesterday, a total of 30 people died from the infection, and 146 were sickened. The outbreak affected people from 28 states.
Though the CDC has declared this outbreak to be over, the agency warns people that listeria is an ongoing health threat, of particular concern to pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems. Visit the CDC’s listeria information page for more on how the bacteria is spread, and what symptoms to look for.
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Friday, October 21st, 2011
The outbreak of the infection caused by the bacteria listeria is not yet over, health officials announced this week, but its spread is slowing significantly.
The outbreak, which was traced to tainted cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farm in Granada, Colorado, began in August, and peaked in September, an official from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention told CNN.com. As of Wednesday, the illness had been linked to 25 deaths, with infections reported in 26 states.
The Food and Drug Administration sent a letter to Jensen Farms Wednesday, citing unsanitary conditions and “widespread contamination” at the farm that contributed to the outbreak. From CNN:
The agency cited several likely causes of the spread of the Listeria monocytogenes bacteria at Jensen Farms.
The likely causes included packing equipment that “was not easily cleaned and sanitized” and the use of washing and drying equipment for cantaloupe packing as well as other raw agricultural commodities.
In addition, the agency said in a statement, the facility lacked a “pre-cooling step” to remove field heat from the cantaloupes before cold storage, possibly leading to condensation in the cooling process that promoted growth of the listeria bacteria.
Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to listeria infection, and at least one miscarriage has been linked to the current outbreak. Consumers are urged to throw out any cantaloupe–even if it has been well refrigerated–that could possibly have been grown at Jensen Farm.
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Thursday, September 29th, 2011
Federal officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced this week that certain Colorado-grown cantaloupe tainted with a strain of the bacteria listeria has claimed 13 lives in an outbreak that now includes 18 states and 72 illnesses, including 2 pregnant women.
In mid-September, the listeria outbreak was linked to cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farm in Granada, Colorado. The farm issued an immediate recall of its melons, and CDC officials now say that the tainted melon has nearly reached the end of its shelf life.
However, people who ate tainted cantaloupe may yet develop symptoms of listeria, such as fever, muscle aches, and gastrointestinal distress. The bacteria can survive refrigeration, unlike some other food-borne pathogens, so the CDC urges consumers to hold off on consuming cantaloupe unless they can confirm the melons were not grown at Jensen Farm.
Pregnant women, people over 60, and those with compromised immune systems are at particular risk of serious illness or death if they contract listeriosis. Pregnant women who contract the disease are at risk for convulsions, miscarriage, or stillbirth.
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