The listeria outbreak that currently spans 28 states in the United States of America has taken 29 individuals to the grave according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). The listeria has been linked to contaminated cantaloupes that are disseminated through the Rocky Ford brand by a Colorado based Jensen Farms. Excluding the 29 dead so far, a total of 139 people have fallen ill due to the listeria outbreak. One miscarriage was confirmed by the CDC.
Jensen Farms is being berated by the FDA (Food Drugs and Administration) for its “poor sanitary practices” which have been discovered to be a major factor in the contamination at its packing plant.
Food safety officials and other experts also condemned the Jensen Farms as the risk of listeria contamination is always great in a wet, dirty and cool environment much like the one found in the packing plant.
Products have of course been recalled.
8 died in Colorado, 3 in Kansas, 2 in Nebraska, 2 in New York, 1 in Wyoming, 2 in Texas, 1 in Maryland, 2 in Missouri, 1 in Indiana, 2 in Louisiana, 5 in New Mexico.
Although listeria is mostly associated with meat or cheese, the outbreak this time now originates from listeria-contaminated cantaloupes which if eaten can cause listeriosis.
Symptoms can take up to a couple of months to appear and when they do they can often include diarrhea, fever and muscle aches. It can of course be seriously harmful to children, the elderly and the pregnant.
The very first illnesses started in the beginning of August.
The death toll of this outbreak has officially made this listeria outbreak one of the most deadliest food-borne illness outbreaks in the United States since 1924 when 1,500 fell ill and 150 people died due to typhoid as a result of consuming raw oysters according to the CDC.
But before that year, the earliest records indicate streptococcus taking 48 lives and leaving approximately 2,000 people sick in Boston, 1911.
In 1919, botulism as a result of consuming jarred olives in California took 15 lives. And again, in 1922, streptococcus in unpasteurized milk left 22 dead and 487 ill.
Serious food-borne illnesses seem to have taken a break until 1983 when a listeria outbreak linked to contaminated milk left 12 dead and 49 sickened.
Shortly thereafter, salmonella in milk killed 14 in 1985. In the same year, Jalisco Products’ cheese was contaminated with listeria which left 10 infants dead, 18 adults dead, and led to 20 miscarriages while around 142 people fell ill.
Up through 1993 to 2008, food-borne illnesses originating from E. coli, salmonella and listeria contaminations resulted in 64 deaths, 1 miscarriage and left more than 1,700 people sick.
(Cover Photo: Hyoung Chang/AP)