August 22, 2019

Death toll from tainted US melons rises to 13

Rock Melons - very tasty, but also very deadly at the moment in the US.

At least 13 people have died and 72 others badly ill from the listeriosis outbreak in the United States.

Listeria contamination of cantaloupe melons grown in Colorado has been reported in 18 other states.

Four people have died in New Mexico, two in Colorado, two in Texas and one each in Kansas, Nebraska, Maryland, Missouri and Oklahoma.

Listeria infections have been reported from California to Virginia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in an update.

Investigators are trying to establish if three other deaths in New Mexico, Kansas and Wyoming are linked to the tainted fruit.

The CDC warned the number of incidents was likely to grow, since symptoms can take four weeks or more to appear.

“That long incubation period is a real problem,” Dr Robert Tauxe of the CDC said.

“People who ate a contaminated food two weeks ago or even a week ago could still be falling sick weeks later.”

The source of the outbreak has been traced to cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colorado.

Earlier this month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) confirmed it had found the bacterial strain Listeria monocytogenes in melon samples from Jensen Farms.

In response, the company issued a recall in mid-September of its Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupes.

Jensen Farms distributed the melon brand to at least 17 states between the end of July and September.

The company said in a statement said it was fully co-operating with efforts to contain the outbreak.

The FDA is investigating how the contamination could have happened.

The elderly, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems are most vulnerable to ill effects from listeria.

Listeria bacteria can grow at room temperature and even refrigerator temperatures.

Officials have advised that all potentially contaminated produce be thrown away immediately, and that any surfaces it may have touched be sanitised.

The toll has surpassed the number of deaths – nine – that was linked to an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago.

In 1988, 21 people died in a listeria outbreak from contaminated hot dogs, while in 1985, 52 deaths were linked to listeria contamination in Mexican-style soft cheese.

The CDC says around 800 listeria cases are reported in the US each year.


  1. American Food Safety – so safe, so supreme, the perception created by Western critics and these same groups will be the first to point an accusing figure at China. Look at the apples imported from China, for years no safety issues involved compared to these melons. There is no such thing that America food safety is better than others. Only the rules and regulations may differ amongst countries. Its best if American is willing their expertise on food safety with others if there is any expertise afterall.