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Author Topic: Deadly Cantaloupe Outbreak - Listeria/Death Toll 30  (Read 8480 times)
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MuffyBee
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« on: September 28, 2011, 05:30:38 PM »

http://austin.ynn.com/content/top_stories/280662/cantaloupe-outbreak-is-deadliest-in-a-decade
Cantaloupe outbreak is deadliest in a decade
September 28, 2011

Health officials say as many as 16 people have died from possible listeria illnesses traced to Colorado cantaloupes, the deadliest food outbreak in more than a decade.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 72 illnesses and 13 deaths are linked to the tainted fruit. State and local officials say they are investigating three additional deaths that may be connected.

The death toll released by the CDC Tuesday, including newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas, surpassed the number of deaths linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago. Nine people died in that outbreak.
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Edit to change death toll.  MB
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« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2011, 05:33:07 PM »

http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/09/28/us-usa-listeria-outbreak-idUSTRE78R4QT20110928?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews
Listeria cases likely to rise through October: U.S. officials
September 28, 2011

(Reuters) - Cases of illness in the U.S. listeria outbreak linked to tainted cantaloupes -- already the deadliest in a decade -- will likely rise in the next month as more people who have been infected with the bacteria begin to develop symptoms, health officials said on Wednesday.

To date, 13 people have died and 72 people have been infected in the outbreak in 18 states, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Unlike E. coli and salmonella, two common causes of foodborne disease, Listeria bacteria can cause disease and illness as long as two months after a person has consumed contaminated food, making these outbreaks especially vexing.

"We will see more cases likely through October," U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said in a telephone briefing.

Health officials have pinpointed the source of the outbreak to cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms in Colorado shipped between July 29 and September 10, but it is not yet clear how listeria bacteria got into the fruit.

Such outbreaks are far more common in processed meats and cheeses.
 ::snipping2::
"The time between consuming food that has listeria and onset of disease is very long," he said. "It can be on the low end a week, but up to two months."

That compares with E. coli and salmonella, where it takes one to three days between consumption of a contaminated food and disease symptoms.

 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2011, 08:16:55 PM »

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44703472/ns/today-today_health/t/tainted-cantaloupe-likely-gone-more-illness-expected/#.ToOr3uy8sng
Tainted cantaloupe likely gone, but more illness expected
Listeria can affect people weeks, even months, after they eat contaminated food
September 28, 2011

Cantaloupe contaminated with listeria is nearing the end of its shelf life, but federal health officials warned Wednesday that more fatalities and illnesses can be expected through next month in the nation's deadliest food poisoning outbreak in more than a decade.

That's because the listeria bacteria that cause the infection have a very long incubation period compared to other foodborne pathogens, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It can be one to three weeks or two months in some cases," said Frieden, who urged people to toss any fruit from a Colorado grower responsible for the outbreak.

"For the public, it's important to know that if you know that the cantaloupe you have is not Jensen Farms, it's OK. If you're in doubt, throw it out," he added.

At least 72 people have been infected and 13 have died in 18 states in the widening outbreak traced to cantaloupes grown and shipped by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo., CDC officials reported. At least three additional deaths are being investigated in Kansas, Wyoming and New Mexico, state health officials said.
 ::snipping2::
Source of bacteria still unknown
The Food and Drug Administration still has not determined the source of the contamination, the first-ever listeria detected in cantaloupe, Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg said. Traces of bacteria have been confirmed in cantaloupe from Jensen Farms and on equipment used to process it, the FDA said.
 ::snipping2::
The cantaloupe outbreak has led to deaths in eight states. Most of the victims of illness and death have been older than age 60, the CDC said, and many have health conditions that make them susceptible to the the bacteria's high mortality rate, which can top 20 percent.
Listeria is a common bacterium that typically causes mild illness in healthy people, but can cause severe illness in older people and those with compromised immune systems. It also can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women and severe infections in new babies. In the current outbreak, two of the victims are pregnant, but the women and their babies appear to be doing fine, health officials said.
Symptoms can include fever, diarrhea, nausea and muscle aches, sometimes severe.

While it's not clear yet clear exactly how the cantaloupes became contaminated, the fruit is susceptible because of its rough, porous skin and soft, succulent interior. In addition, knives can carry bacteria from the outside of the melon into the flesh when they slice through.

The contaminated cantaloupes were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 to 25 states, where they were sold at stores including large retailers such as Safeway, King Sooper and Walmart.
 ::snipping2::
Some consumers may still have the contaminated fruit in their homes, possibly under refrigeration. Unlike many other foodborne pathogens, listeria bacteria can continue to thrive in cold temperatures.

Health officials urged consumers to check the labels on cantaloupes or to ask their grocers directly about the source of the fruit. Any contaminated cantaloupe should be tossed, and household surfaces should be sanitized with bleach, FDA officials said.

"We don't want you to trying to wash off that contamination," said Dr. Sherri McGarry, senior advisor of the FDA's department of Foods. "We want you to throw that produce away."

In any case, whole cantaloupe has a shelf life of about two weeks before it goes bad, while cut cantaloupe has an even shorter edible span.

This is the 10th outbreak of food poisoning in a decade tied to cantaloupe, Frieden said. Seven of those have been tied to salmonella contamination, while three have been in fruit tainted by norovirus.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #3 on: September 30, 2011, 10:47:20 AM »

http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/health&id=8373888
Fear in Colo. town at heart of Listeria outbreak
September 30, 2011

 ::snipping2::
Jensen is the co-owner of the Colorado farm where health officials say a national listeria outbreak originated, making his withering fields the epicenter of a food scare that has sickened dozens of people from Wyoming to Maryland and caused 16 deaths.

Jensen has no idea how his cantaloupes became infected, and neither do the Food and Drug Administration investigators who have intermittently been in this town of 800 people near the Kansas border since the outbreak started earlier this month.

Regardless of how it happened, the situation has left the town and farm reeling and in fear. Jensen had to quit growing and shipping cantaloupes after the outbreak was discovered -- a staggering blow to a region where cantaloupe has always been a proud local tradition.

Until the listeria infections started showing up, Holly's field workers would bring melons into town to share, just as they have for generations. And it wasn't uncommon for Holly residents to stop by Jensen Farms to buy freshly picked cantaloupe. Now, not even the local grocery store has any of the fruit.

No one in Holly has been sickened, but people are frightened by the prospect of contracting listeria. The bacteria can have an incubation period of a month or more, and it principally affects the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

"I ate that cantaloupe, and I gave some of it to my 97-year-old mother,"' said Wanda Watson, co-owner of the Tasty House Cafe. "I'm watching her real close. It's scary because it could be up to two months before you get sick."

Sherri McGarry, a senior adviser in the FDA's Office of Foods, said the agency is looking at the farm's water supply and the possibility that animals wandered into Jensen Farms' fields, among other things, in trying to figure out how the cantaloupes became contaminated. Listeria bacteria grow in moist, muddy conditions and are often carried by animals.

The water supply for farms in the Holly area comes from wells and irrigation ditches that tap the nearby Arkansas River. There's no shortage of thoughts around town about the potential causes.

"Well water? I doubt it. Ditch water? Well, there's some probability, but it's low," said Jim Cline, a retired construction worker. "Animal intrusion? Well, OK, what kind of animal? Deer? Coons? Coyotes? What kind of animal wants to get into a melon field?"
 ::snipping2::
Holly is about a 90-minute drive from the town of Rocky Ford,

home to Colorado's revered cantaloupe growing region. Cantaloupes from the Arkansas River Valley are prized for their sweetness and are such a big deal that farms like Jensen's -- 70 miles away -- carry the brand name "Rocky Ford Cantaloupe."

The listeria scare has some residents wondering about the future for their Rocky Ford brand of cantaloupe -- and cantaloupe farming in Colorado for that matter. They're hopeful this outbreak eventually will fade from the public's memory, like others involving spinach or ground meat contaminated by E. coli bacteria or salmonella.
 ::snipping2::
Holly Mayor Viola Welcher said. "We've all eaten it and no one in our area has gotten sick."
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« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2011, 04:06:19 PM »

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/09/30/lettuce-recalled-after-listeria-found/
CDC: 84 Infected, 15 Dead From Listeria Outbreakfo
September 30, 2011

New statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the recent listeria outbreak in 19 states has killed 15 people and sickened 84.

Infections have occurred in the following states: Alabama (1), Arkansas (1) California (1), Colorado (17), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (3), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (13), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (11), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (2).

Deaths have occurred in the following states: 3 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 5 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

A California company said it was recalling 90 cartons of chopped romaine lettuce that was shipped to Oregon and then further distributed to Idaho, Washington and perhaps elsewhere after the Food and Drug Administration found listeria in a sample.

True Leaf Farms said there have been no illnesses linked to the lettuce.


Listeria is very dangerous and is the bacteria behind an ongoing outbreak that has sickened and killed people in several states who ate contaminated cantaloupes that were produced in Colorado.
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« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2011, 07:16:53 PM »

http://www.medpagetoday.com/InfectiousDisease/GeneralInfectiousDisease/28828
Deadly Listeria Outbreak Claims More Lives
September 30, 2011

The death toll in the listeriosis outbreak connected to Colorado cantaloupes has risen to 15, the CDC said Friday.

The agency has now counted 84 cases of infection with the outbreak strains of Listeria monocytogenes in 19 states.

On Wednesday, the agency had reported 72 infections and 13 deaths.

The outbreak is now literally nationwide, with infections confirmed from California to Maryland.

CDC officials said it was likely that additional cases would be found, because the illness can take as long to two months to develop after eating contaminated foods, and because of delays in diagnosis and reporting.

The agency also issued an "early release" Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report review of the outbreak that noted "several unusual features."

Listeria had not previously been found to contaminate melons, it said. Also, the outbreak appears to involve multiple strains -- two serotypes and four "widely differing" pulsed-field gel electrophoresis pattern combinations.

The scale is also relatively novel. The CDC said only two previous Listeria outbreaks have had higher case numbers -- the record, set in 1988, is 142 -- and the 15 deaths this year are the most since 1998.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #6 on: October 04, 2011, 11:49:59 PM »

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/10/04/health/main20115744.shtml
Listeria-caused U.S. deaths rise to 18
October 4, 2011

AP)

WASHINGTON - Federal health officials have raised the death toll to 18 in an outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday it has confirmed 100 illnesses in 20 states, including the 18 deaths. The agency said it has confirmed two additional deaths in Colorado and one in Kansas since last week.

The CDC had previously reported five deaths in New Mexico, three deaths in Colorado, two deaths in Texas and one death each in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Maryland.

The death toll may continue to rise. Wyoming's state health department said it has confirmed a death in that state linked to the outbreak, though the CDC did not include that case in its count. CDC officials have said the symptoms of listeria can take up to two months to show up and that they expect more illnesses.
 ::snipping2::
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg said Tuesday that the agency is still investigating the cause of the outbreak. Officials have said they are looking at the farm's water supply and possible animal intrusions among other things in trying to figure out how the cantaloupes became contaminated. Listeria bacteria grow in moist, muddy conditions and are often carried by animals.

Most of the contaminated melons should be out of the food supply by now. The farm last shipped its cantaloupes on Sept. 10, and their shelf life is about two weeks. Officials from the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration say that any cantaloupes not from Jensen Farms are safe to eat.

The recalled cantaloupes may be labeled "Colorado Grown," `'Distributed by Frontera Produce," `'Jensenfarms.com" or "Sweet Rocky Fords." Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker, the FDA said.

Government health officials said this is the first known outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe. Listeria is generally found in processed meats and unpasteurized milk and cheese, though there have been a growing number of outbreaks in produce.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2011, 05:59:10 PM »

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/44790290/ns/health-food_safety/
Woman's miscarriage blamed on listeria-tainted cantaloupe
Updated October 5, 2011

A pregnant Iowa woman has suffered a miscarriage after contracting a listeria infection tied to tainted cantaloupe, underscoring the seriousness of the ongoing outbreak in mothers-to-be, state health officials said.
The woman, who is an adult between the ages of 18 and 40 from northwest Iowa, came down with symptoms recently, a few weeks after eating the contaminted cantaloupe. She was still early in her pregnancy, said Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, the Iowa Department of Public Health medical examiner.

"My understanding was that this played a substantial role in the miscarriage," said Quinlisk, who couldn't identify the woman more specifically because of privacy concerns.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2011, 06:00:44 PM »

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2011/10/07/141148032/cantaloupe-recall-due-to-listeria-expands-to-pre-cut-fruit-salads
Cantaloupe Recall Due To Listeria Expands To Pre-Cut Fruit Salads
October 7, 2011

The FDA just announced another recall in connection to the listeria outbreak in cantaloupes that has been blamed for at least 18 deaths and 100 illnesses since August.

This time the potential suspect is a growing segment of the grocery market — those pre-cut chunks of cantaloupe that get mixed in with various other fruits for ready made salads.

Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, New York is recalling approximately 4,800 individual packages of Fresh Cut Cantaloupe and Cut Mixed Fruit Containing Cantaloupe distributed in and around Buffalo because it's potentially contaminated with listeria, the release says.
 

The fruit subject to the recall was sold between August 31 and September 11 at Wegman's and other stores. It includes: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays, the release says. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the cantaloupe processed by Fruit Fresh Up, Inc.

The origin of the fruit is the same as the outbreak first reported last month and linked to Jensen Farms and Rocky Ford Cantaloupes in Colorado. Deaths and illness are expected to grow as listeria can take up to a month to cause symptoms of diarrhea and worse.
More...
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« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2011, 06:02:51 PM »

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/10/21-die-in-listeria-outbreak.html
Listeria-tainted cantaloupes now blamed for 21 deaths
October 7, 2011

The death toll from listeria-contaminated cantaloupes has risen to 21, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Friday.

According to the CDC website, 109 people in 24 states have taken ill during the outbreak, the deadliest food-borne incident since 1998.

The latest deaths were in Indiana and New York, the CDC reported. The Atlanta-based agency also confirmed a death in Wyoming.

The agency also reported that a woman, pregnant at the time of her illness, had suffered a miscarriage.
More...

Link to CDC Website:  http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/
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« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2011, 05:40:05 PM »

http://yourlife.usatoday.com/fitness-food/safety/story/2011-10-12/CDC-Deadliest-listeria-outbreak-in-25-years/50745862/1
CDC: Deadliest listeria outbreak in 25 years
October 13, 2011

WASHINGTON – An outbreak of listeria in cantaloupe is now linked to 23 deaths, making it the deadliest known outbreak of foodborne illness in the USA in more than 25 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that 116 people have been sickened in the outbreak, including those who died. The number of deaths has now surpassed a 1998 outbreak of listeria in processed meats that was linked to 21 deaths. A 1985 listeria outbreak in Mexican-style soft cheeses killed 52 people.

The tainted Colorado cantaloupes should be off store shelves by now; they were recalled in mid-September and their shelf life is about two weeks. But the number of deaths may continue to grow, because the symptoms of listeria can take up to two months to appear.
The CDC on Wednesday confirmed two more deaths in Louisiana that the state had said it was investigating last week. Other deaths have been reported in Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming. Colorado and New Mexico reported five deaths each.

The outbreak has been linked to Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes sold by Jensen Farms near Holly, Colo. The cantaloupes were recalled Sept. 14. The CDC and the Food and Drug Administration said any cantaloupes not from Jensen Farms are safe to eat.

The first illnesses began after July 31. Symptoms of listeriosis can take up to two months to develop in someone who has eaten contaminated food, so illnesses could continue to show up into November, the CDC said.
More...
Video at Link
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« Reply #11 on: October 19, 2011, 08:39:04 PM »

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/10/19/25-dead-in-nations-largest-outbreak-foodborne-illness/?test=latestnews
25 Dead of Listeria, Now Deadliest U.S. Foodborne Outbreak on Record
October 19, 2011

Twenty-five people have died so far as a result of a listeria outbreak linked to Colorado-grown cantaloupes -- the deadliest known case of foodborne illness in the U.S. in more than 25 years.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said 123 people have been sickened across 26 states, including the deaths. Those who have died ranged in age between 48 and 96, with a median age of 87.

There have been six deaths in Colorado; five in New Mexico; two each in Texas, Kansas, New York and Louisiana; and one each in Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming. In addition, a pregnant woman had a miscarriage after she fell ill. And more people could still die, according to the CDC, as the number of illnesses may continue to grow.
 ::snipping2::
The contaminated melons, which were recalled in September, should be off store shelves by now.

Four strains of listeria monocytogenes have been traced to Rocky Ford melons produced by Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.

Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at the farm's cantaloupe packing facility were probably to blame for the outbreak, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there.

In a six-page assessment of the conditions at the farm based on investigators' visits in late September, the FDA said Jensen Farms had recently purchased used equipment that was corroded, dirty and hard to clean.

The packing facility floors were also constructed so they were hard to clean, as pools of water potentially harboring the bacteria formed close to the packing equipment.

The equipment – purchased in July, the same month the outbreak started – was previously used for a different agricultural commodity, the agency said, and the listeria "could have been introduced as a result of past use of the equipment," according to the report.
 ::snipping2::
The farm did not use a process called "pre-cooling" that is designed to remove some condensation, which creates moist conditions on the cantaloupe rind that are ideal for listeria bacteria growth. Listeria grows in cool conditions, unlike most pathogens.

Another possible source of contamination was a truck that frequently hauled cantaloupe to a cattle operation and was parked near the packing house.

Contamination could have been tracked into the house by people or equipment, the report said.

Barbara Mahon of the CDC said that the illnesses peaked from mid-August through September, but that the government would continue to monitor the situation for at least another two weeks.

FDA officials said Wednesday that the agency has never visited the farm to do an inspection, but that would likely change under a new food safety law signed by President Obama earlier this year that boosts the number of inspections the FDA conducts annually. Currently, the agency may only visit a food facility every five or 10 years at the most.

FDA officials said they have visited many food facilities over the years and the conditions at Jensen Farms were unique.

"There is no reason to believe these practices are indicative of practices throughout the industry," said Sherri McGarry, a senior officer in FDA's office of foods.

McGarry said the agency has sent the company a warning letter and is still considering what enforcement actions it will take. Officials said the farm had cooperated in all aspects of the recall and investigation.
 ::snipping2::



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« Reply #12 on: October 19, 2011, 09:00:49 PM »

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/unsanitary-packing-probably-led-to-cantaloupe-outbreak/2011/10/19/gIQAb2pjyL_story.html
Unsanitary packing probably led to cantaloupe outbreak
October 19, 2011

Unsanitary conditions at a cantaloupe packing plant probably contributed to the outbreak that has killed more than two dozen people, including one in Maryland, federal regulators said Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration determined last month that Jensen Farms in Colorado was the source of the cantaloupes contaminated with Listeria, a dangerous but rare bacterium that thrives in damp and cool conditions. As the illnesses mounted, the incident became the country’s deadliest foodborne outbreak in more than 25 years.
On Wednesday, federal regulators cast blame on the farm’s off-site packing facility. They said it was poorly designed, allowing water to pool on the floors. Its equipment was difficult to clean. And its new washer and dryer system had also been used on raw potatoes. The potatoes may have then decayed, promoting Listeria growth.

In a warning letter to Jensen Farms this week, the FDA demanded that the company detail in writing how it plans to prevent a repeat of this type of outbreak. Jensen Farms, which voluntarily recalled its cantaloupe Sept. 14, has shut down its operations because the growing season is over, regulators said.

The company said in a statement that it is cooperating with the ongoing FDA investigation.

“Our operations will not resume until we are completely satisfied that we have done everything in our power to ensure the safety of our products,” the statement said.

The FDA does not know exactly how the Listeria made its way into the packing plant, said Jim Gorny, an FDA senior adviser. But investigators suggested that it might have been in the soil or on the cantaloupe at levels that were undetectable. They also said a truck that carried culled cantaloupe to a cattle farm might have driven through animal feces and dragged back Listeria on its tires. The truck was parked close to the packing facility.

“Where did it really come from? We’ll probably never know,” Gorny said.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2011, 08:21:46 PM »

http://onlinenewswebsite.com/finger-pointing-as-probe-into-poison-cantaloupes-intensifies/1010178/
Finger-pointing as Probe Into Poison Cantaloupes Intensifies
October 22, 2011

A potential congressional investigation and multiple death lawsuits are looming against a Colorado farm where one of the most deadly U.S. food poisonings ever has been traced.

Southeastern Colorado’s Jensen Farms has been named as the source of a mass food poisoning via the cantaloupes it produces. As of this report, 25 people have died from listeria-tainted product. More deaths may come from the outbreak.

The Denver Post reported that an independent audit of the Jensen company days before the deadly cantaloupes were shipped gave the plant 96/100, failing to notice the unsafe practices. In the report, the company – representing a major buyer – noted that chlorinated water was not used in preparation of the cantaloupe, which should have raised a red flag.

“The absence of use of chlorine in the water as the melons were being washed was an extraordinarily unfortunate decision,” said Trevor Suslow, a University of California-Davis food-safety and melon expert.
 ::snipping2::
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« Reply #14 on: June 04, 2012, 10:48:26 PM »

http://www.statesman.com/news/texas/lawyers-deal-is-close-in-colo-listeria-lawsuits-2391226.html
Lawyers: Deal is close in Colo. listeria lawsuits
June 4, 2012

DENVER — Lawyers involved in lawsuits against a Colorado farm identified as the source of a deadly listeria outbreak last fall said Monday they were close to a settlement in the case.

The lawsuits were filed by people who were sickened or who had a family member die after the nationwide outbreak involving cantaloupes killed 30 people.

Attorneys for both sides said the deal could be finalized by fall.

"I would say we are very close," said Jim Markus, an attorney for defendant Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.

Bill Marler, a lawyer for 39 of the plaintiffs, said the settlement also could include a company that manufactures and imports food-processing equipment and a firm that did a safety audit of the farm.

The possible settlement currently being discussed would set up a victims' fund of roughly $4 million, including $2 million from Jensen Farms' insurer, Marler said. The remainder would come from the insurers of the equipment company and the safety auditor, he said.

The plaintiffs might also pursue claims against others involved in the distribution and sale of the cantaloupes, he said.
 ::snipping2::
Marler said at least seven other lawsuits have been filed by other attorneys or victims representing themselves.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in December that 30 people died, 146 people were sickened, and one woman suffered a miscarriage. Marler believes 36 deaths can be attributed to the outbreak.

CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell said the agency is standing by the death toll of 30, but it could be revised if more evidence is presented.


The federal Food and Drug Administration has said dirty water on a floor, and old, hard-to-clean equipment probably were to blame for the outbreak.

It was the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in 25 years. The CDC said cases were reported in 28 states.

Jensen Farms filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, and listeria lawsuits against the company cannot go forward until the bankruptcy judge clears the way, Marler said.
 ::snipping2::
Marler said the projected $4 million settlement fund isn't enough to fairly compensate the victims. He said his clients have amassed a total of nearly $8 million in medical bills, and they deserve more for pain and suffering and for future medical bills.
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2013, 08:51:52 PM »

I realize it's been a long time since this listeria outbreak, but I think it's important to understand food our food sources and preparation. 

http://**/breakingnews/ci_24182307/colorado-cantaloupe-farm-charged-by-federal-officials-fatal
Colorado cantaloupe farmers charged by federal officials in fatal listeria outbreak
September 26, 2013

Two Colorado brothers who grew listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in an outbreak that killed 33 people nationwide and sickened hundreds more were criminally charged Thursday by federal authorities.

Eric Jensen, 37, and Ryan Jensen, 33, turned themselves in to federal marshals and pleaded not guilty to six misdemeanor counts of introducing adulterated food into the food supply. The fourth-generation family farmers from Holly, in southeastern Colorado, were shackled at the wrists during their federal court hearing.

The outbreak two years ago this month was linked to Jensen Farms after an investigation traced half-eaten cantaloupe taken from patients' refrigerators, to grocery stores and then to the farm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officially has linked 33 deaths and a miscarriage to the outbreak, although 10 other people who had been infected with listeria bacteria after eating Jensen cantaloupe also have died.
The federal charges each carry up to one year in prison and a $250,000 fine. A trial date was set for Dec. 2.

The Jensens' attorneys emphasized that the farm has cooperated with investigators all along; neither side would comment on whether a plea bargain is under negotiation.

"The charges against Eric and Ryan Jensen do not imply that they knew, or even should have known, that the cantaloupes had been contaminated," said a statement issued by their lawyer. "As they were from the first day of this tragedy, the Jensens remain shocked, saddened, and in prayerful remembrance of the victims and their families."

 

Many widespread cases of foodborne illness go without prosecution of growers or distributors. U.S. Attorney spokesman Jeff Dorschner said the Jensen case stood out because of "the magnitude of the number of people who were hospitalized and who died, and it involved 28 of the 50 states."

Victims and food-safety experts expressed surprise and satisfaction that charges had been brought from the 2011 outbreak. They said highlighting sloppy practices would send the system a message about food safety.

Owner Eric Jensen examines cantaloupe on the Jensen Farms near Holly on Sept. 28, 2011. (Ed Andrieski, Associated Press file)
satisfaction that charges had been brought from the 2011 outbreak. They said highlighting sloppy practices would send the system a message about food safety.
Jennifer Exley, whose father, Herb Stevens, was sickened by a contaminated cantaloupe and died in July, went to the hearing because she said she wanted to see the Jensen brothers in person. She has never spoken to them. The two farmers awaited their arraignment in a jury box with a handful of other men brought to court in chains.

"I wanted to humanize this for me," Exley said outside the federal courthouse.

"I'm glad they were charged. I don't think they did anything on purpose, but I think they had very sloppy farming practices."

Victims, attorneys and food- safety experts have speculated since 2011 whether what happened at Jensen Farms would lead to any federal court action. Past prosecutions in food safety cases have proved mercurial and often took years from the time consumers were first sickened by pathogens.

"This is an unprecedented thing; it's not the norm," said Amanda Hitt, an attorney with the Government Accountability Project, a whistleblower-supporting group in Washington, D.C.

Civil lawsuits by victims are not enough to persuade food companies to clean up, Hitt said.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler of Seattle, who represents most of the victims of the listeria outbreak, praised the news but said prosecutors should consider going after the grocery stores and others.

"We will never have safe food from 'farm to fork' until the entire chain of distribution is held accountable for the food that they make a profit from," Marler said.

No public information had surfaced that Ryan or Eric Jensen knew they had any safety problems. Experts who have watched past food safety outbreaks said federal prosecutors do not usually pursue a case unless there is clear evidence that owners knew of or ignored obvious signs of contamination.

"As this case so tragically reminds us, food processors play a critical role in ensuring that our food is safe," U.S. Attorney John Walsh said in a statement. "They bear a special responsibility to ensure that the food they produce and sell is not dangerous to the public."

Federal prosecutors can bring misdemeanor-level cases based on the simple fact of distributing contaminated food, regardless of who knew what or when they knew it. But they rarely do so, saving their firepower for wider felony cases with a "knowing" element of malice.

The Jensens, by contrast, told experts the changes they made between 2010 and 2011 were meant to make food safer. Federal guidelines at the time were not clear, but Thursday's charges quote an FDA official saying the Jensens should have used a chlorine bath to kill bacteria.

FDA inspectors said their sorter was meant for raw potatoes and allowed dirty water to pool and recontaminate melons.

Numerous lawsuits have been brought by victims against the Jensens, their distributors, auditors and grocery stores. The Jensens eventually filed bankruptcy, and their insurance was put in a pool to compensate victims.
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« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2013, 10:23:34 PM »

http://www.wfaa.com/news/crime/Farmers-tied-to-listeria-outbreak-to-plead-guilty-228072041.html
Farmers tied to listeria outbreak to plead guilty
October 16, 2013

ENVER (AP) — Two Colorado cantaloupe farmers plan to plead guilty under a deal with federal prosecutors in connection with the 2011 listeria outbreak that killed 33 people in the nation's deadliest case of foodborne illness in a quarter century.

Eric and Ryan Jensen filed documents Tuesday notifying the court that they would plead guilty to unspecified charges under the agreements. Details typically aren't disclosed until the hearing where defendants formally change their pleas.

Ryan Jensen's lawyer, Richard Banta, declined comment Wednesday and Eric Jensen's lawyer didn't immediately return a call. A prosecutors' spokesman wasn't available to comment because of the government shutdown.

The brothers were charged last month with introducing adulterated food into interstate commerce. At the time, the Food and Drug Administration said the rare move was intended to send a message to food producers.

According to the FDA, conditions at Jensen Farms in southeast Colorado led to the 2011 outbreak. Federal investigators said the melons likely were contaminated in the farm's packing house because of dirty water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment.

Officials said people in 28 states ate the contaminated fruit, and 147 required hospitalization.

Criminal charges are rare in food-borne illnesses, but the FDA under President Barack Obama has been more aggressive in pursuing farmers and food processors for alleged lapses.

 

The Jensens each faced up to six years in prison and $1.5 million in fines had they been convicted of all of the original charges against them. Their lawyers have requested that they be allowed to change their pleas on Oct. 22 but the judge hasn't set a date yet.
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