TOPEKA — The Kansas Department of Health and Environment along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend consumers and especially persons at high risk for listeriosis to not eat cantaloupes marketed from Jensen Farms in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado due to a potential contamination with Listeria monocytogenes, a bacterium that can cause serious illness.
Those at high risk include older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women,
Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms were distributed in Kansas and several other states. The cantaloupes were grown at Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo., which is located in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado.
The cantaloupe may be labeled: Colorado Grown, Distributed by Frontera Produce, USA, Pesticide Free, Jensenfarms.com, Sweet Rocky Fords. Some cantaloupes may also have been unlabeled.
Jensen Farms has issued a voluntary recall of Rocky Ford Cantaloupe on Sept. 14. People who have cantaloupes in their homes can check the label or check with the grocery store to determine if the fruit came from Jensen Farms in the Rocky Ford region.
KDHE is collaborating with the CDC, the FDA, the Kansas Department of Agriculture and health officials in other states to investigate a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis associated with consumption of the cantaloupes.
Kansas has now had eight cases of listeriosis reported since Aug. 26, according to KDHE. Two of these eight patients have died and the causes of death are being investigated.
None of these cases has been definitively linked to the multi-state outbreak, but investigations are continuing and additional laboratory testing is pending. Typically, Kansas reports fewer than six cases of listeriosis per year; to date, there have been nine cases in 2011, including the eight cases currently under investigation.
Listeriosis primarily occurs among older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, pregnant women and newborns. Symptoms include fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and vomiting. People with these symptoms should consult a physician. Symptoms typically occur three to 70 days after exposure.
Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.
Even if some of the cantaloupe has been eaten without becoming ill, dispose of the rest of the cantaloupe immediately. If the whole cantaloupe is unlabeled, contact the retail store to determine the source of the fruit. Listeria bacteria can grow in the cantaloupe at room and refrigerator temperatures.
People should wash their hands before and after handling melon. The surface of melons should be washed and dried with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting. Cut melon should be promptly refrigerated at less than 41ºF. Cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours should be discarded.
For additional information regarding this outbreak, visit the CDC multi-state food-borne illness outbreak page at cdc.gov/outbreaknet/outbreaks.html and the FDA recall media release atfda.gov/Safety/Recalls/ucm271879.htm.