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Senior Citizen Alerts

Seniors Warned of Deadly Listeriosis Outbreak Linked to Colorado Cantaloupes

13 confirmed deaths, dozens infected by listeria in 18 states; video on produce safety

Read more about "Tips for Fresh Food Safety" below news report.

Sept. 28, 2011 – An outbreak of deadly listeria infection has killed 13 people and infected 72 in 18 states, according to a report yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Senior citizens, especially with weakened immune systems, are considered to be at high risk.

The outbreak started in the late summer and investigations by local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate the source of the outbreak is whole cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms’ production fields in Granada, Colorado.


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   ● As of 11am EDT on September 26, 2011, a total of 72 persons infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported to CDC from 18 states. All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011.

   ● The number of infected persons identified in each state is as follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).

   ● Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

   ● Collaborative investigations by local, state, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicate the source of the outbreak is whole cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms’ production fields in Granada, Colorado.

   ● On September 14, 2011, FDA issued a press releaseDescription: External Web Site Icon to announce that Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes after being linked to a multistate outbreak of listeriosis.

   ● CDC recommends that persons at high risk for listeriosis, including older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women, do not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.

   ● Other consumers who want to reduce their risk of Listeria infection should not eat Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms.

   ● Even if some of the cantaloupe has been eaten without becoming ill, dispose of the rest of the cantaloupe immediately. Listeria bacteria can grow in the cantaloupe at room and refrigerator temperatures.

   ● More information about listeriosis and recommendations to reduce the risk of getting listeriosis from food are available at CDC’s Listeriosis webpage.

   ● For more information on food outbreaks, please visit CDC’s Multistate Foodborne Outbreaks page.

Tips for Fresh Produce Safety (CDC)

Safe Handling of Raw Produce and Fresh-Squeezed Juices

Buying Tips

   ● Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.

   ● When selecting fresh-cut produce - such as a half a watermelon or bagged salad greens - choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

   ● Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.

Storage Tips

   ● Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs, and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.

   ● Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Preparation Tips

   ● Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.

   ● Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded.

   ● All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking.

   ● Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.

   ● Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first.

   ● Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended.

   ● Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush.

   ● Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

>> More Produce Safety (FDA)
Tips and Q&As on buying, storing and preparing fresh produce.


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