10/04/2011 4:16:37 PM
The number of people whose deaths are linked to Colorado cantaloupes contaminated with listeria has risen to 18, surpassing the 9 deaths attributed to salmonella-tainted peanut products several years ago.
According to an Oct. 4 update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 100 people in 20 states have been sickened in the outbreak. The contaminated cantaloupes were shipped by Granada, Colo.-based Jensen Farms.
Five people have died in Colorado, five in New Mexico, two in Texas, two in Kansas and one each in Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
It’s the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in the U.S. in more than a decade. The elderly, pregnant women and those with weak immune systems are the most susceptible to listeriosis, the illness caused by listeria.
No other farms in Colorado’s Rocky Ford growing region have been linked to the outbreak.
FDA investigators collected cantaloupes and environmental samples from a Denver-area retailer and from Jensen Farms after Colorado health officials identified the farm as the source of cantaloupes eaten by several people suffering from listeriosis, the illness caused by listeria.
Listeria was found on cantaloupes at the retailer and on cantaloupes and equipment at Jensen Farms. The recalled cantaloupes were shipped from July 29 through Sept. 10.
Most Rocky Ford cantaloupe shippers were at or near the end of their season when retailers began removing product from shelves.