Are you as puzzled about the latest cantaloupe outbreak as I am? This time it’s listeria again (see the previous post on this particular pathogen).
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 72 people have been infected with the strains of listeria associated with the outbreak in 18 states. Most appalling, 13 people have died.
The CDC says that the people who have become ill range from 35 to 96 years, with a median age of 78 years old. Most are over age 60 or have health conditions that weaken the immune system. Pregnant women are at especially high risk as are their fetuses.
As always, the recall occurred after most of the cases were reported to the CDC. The cantaloupe were traced to Jensen Farms, which issued a recall on September 14.
Why cantaloupe? They are, after all, grown in dirt and their skin is rough, textured, and has plenty of places for bacteria to hide. People pick up listeria by handling the fruit and cutting into it. FDA’s information page lists the recalls and press releases on the Jenson Farms outbreak.
The FDA’s advice: throw it out.
Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe. Cutting, slicing, and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh.
What do food safety experts say you have to go through to avoid getting sick from eating cantaloupe?
What? No HazMat suit?
We are talking about cantaloupes here.
How about a food safety system where everyone makes sure — and tests — that listeria doesn’t get on cantaloupe in the first place.
Single food agency anyone?