CDC: Listeria Outbreak Slowing, but Not Over

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  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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