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Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Whole Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado

New Jersey Lawyer to Handle Listeria Case.  The Attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC Are Investigating Potential Claims About the Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak.  Contaminated Fruit and Vegetable Injury and Illness Attorneys

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) At least 72 people in 18 states have been identified as part of the Listeria outbreak traced to Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms.  13 people have died as a consequence of their Listeria infections.

Cantaloupes Recalled for Listeria Contamination

Jensen Farms recalled its Rocky Ford whole cantaloupes on September 14, 2011.  The whole cantaloupes were distributed to the following states: IL, WY, TN, UT, TX, CO, MN, KS, NM, NC, MO, NE, OK, AZ, NJ, NY, PA.  The cantaloupes can be identified by a green and white sticker that reads: Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads: Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords.  On September 23, Carol’s Cuts also recalled its 8 oz. Fruit Medley because it contained Jensen Farms Rocky Ford cantaloupe.

What Is Listeriosis?

Listeriosis, a serious infection usually caused by eating food contaminated with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes, is an important public health problem in the United States. The disease primarily affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns, and adults with weakened immune systems. However, rarely, persons without these risk factors can also be affected. The risk may be reduced by following a few simple recommendations.

What Are the Symptoms of Listeriosis?

A person with listeriosis usually has fever and muscle aches, sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Almost everyone who is diagnosed with listeriosis has “invasive” infection, in which the bacteria spread beyond the gastrointestinal tract. The symptoms vary with the infected person:

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women typically experience only a mild, flu-like illness. However, infections during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery, or life-threatening infection of the newborn.

  • Persons other than pregnant women: Symptoms, in addition to fever and muscle aches, can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance, and convulsions.

People at Risk

In the United States, an estimated 1,600 persons become seriously ill with listeriosis each year. Of these, 260 die.

Who Gets Listeriosis?

The following groups are at increased risk:

  • Pregnant women: Pregnant women are about 20 times more likely than other healthy adults to get listeriosis. About one in six (17%) cases of listeriosis occurs during pregnancy.

  • Newborn babies: Newborn babies suffer the most serious effects of infection in pregnancy.

  • Persons with weakened immune systems from transplants or certain diseases, therapies, or medications.

  • Persons with cancer, diabetes, alcoholism, liver or kidney disease.

  • Persons with AIDS: They are almost 300 times more likely to get listeriosis than people with normal immune systems.

  • Older adults

  • Healthy children and adults occasionally get infected with Listeria, but they rarely become seriously ill.

Prevention

The general guidelines recommended for the prevention of listeriosis are similar to those used to help prevent other foodborne illnesses, such as salmonellosis. In addition, there are specific recommendations for persons at high risk for listeriosis.

How Can I Reduce My Risk for Listeriosis?

There are some general recommendations on how to prevent an infection with Listeria, and some additional recommendations specifically for persons who are at high risk.

General recommendations to prevent an infection with Listeria:

  • Thoroughly cook raw food from animal sources, such as beef, pork, or poultry to a safe internal temperature. For a list of recommended temperatures for meat and poultry, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/IsItDoneYet_Magnet.pdf.

  • Rinse raw fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running tap water before eating.

  • Keep uncooked meats and poultry separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.

  • Do not drink raw (unpasteurized) milk, and do not eat foods that have unpasteurized milk in them.

  • Wash hands, knives, countertops, and cutting boards after handling and preparing uncooked foods.

  • Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible.

Recommendations for persons at high risk, such as pregnant women and persons with weakened immune systems, in addition to the recommendations listed above, include:

  • Meats

  • Do not eat hot dogs, luncheon meats, cold cuts, other deli meats (e.g., bologna), or fermented or dry sausages unless they are heated to an internal temperature of 165°F or until steaming hot just before serving.

  • Avoid getting fluid from hot dog and lunch meat packages on other foods, utensils, and food preparation surfaces, and wash hands after handling hot dogs, luncheon meats, and deli meats.

  • Do not eat refrigerated pâté or meat spreads from a deli or meat counter or from the refrigerated section of a store. Foods that do not need refrigeration, like canned or shelf-stable pâté and meat spreads, are safe to eat. Refrigerate after opening.

  • Cheeses

  • Do not eat soft cheese such as feta, queso blanco, queso fresco, brie, Camembert, blue-veined, or panela (queso panela) unless it is labeled as made with pasteurized milk. Make sure the label says, “MADE WITH PASTEURIZED MILK.”

  • Seafood

  • Do not eat refrigerated smoked seafood, unless it is contained in a cooked dish, such as a casserole, or unless it is a canned or shelf-stable product. Refrigerated smoked seafood, such as salmon, trout, whitefish, cod, tuna, and mackerel, is most often labeled as “nova-style,” “lox,” “kippered,” “smoked,” or “jerky.” These fish are typically found in the refrigerator section or sold at seafood and deli counters of grocery stores and delicatessens. Canned and shelf stable tuna, salmon, and other fish products are safe to eat. “

Recommendations to keep food safe:

  • Be aware that Listeria monocytogenes can grow in foods in the refrigerator. Use an appliance thermometer, such as a refrigerator thermometer, to check the temperature inside your refrigerator. The refrigerator should be 40°F or lower and the freezer 0°F or lower.

  • Clean up all spills in your refrigerator right away–especially juices from hot dog and lunch meat packages, raw meat, and raw poultry.

  • Clean the inside walls and shelves of your refrigerator with hot water and liquid soap, then rinse.

  • Divide leftovers into shallow containers to promote rapid, even cooling. Cover with airtight lids or enclose in plastic wrap or aluminum foil. Use leftovers within 3 to 4 days.

  • Use precooked or ready-to-eat food as soon as you can. Do not store the product in the refrigerator beyond the use-by date; follow USDA refrigerator storage time guidelines:

  • Hot Dogs – store opened package no longer than 1 week and unopened package no longer than 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

  • Luncheon and Deli Meat – store factory-sealed, unopened package no longer than 2 weeks. Store opened packages and meat sliced at a local deli no longer than 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Causes

How does someone get listeriosis?

You get listeriosis by eating food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. Babies can be born with listeriosis if their mothers eat contaminated food during pregnancy. However, healthy persons may consume contaminated foods without becoming ill. Persons at risk can prevent listeriosis by avoiding certain high-risk foods and by handling and storing food properly.

Organism (Etiologic Agent)

Listeria monocytogenes, a gram-positive rod-shaped bacterium.

Reservoir

Listeria monocytogenes is commonly found in soil and water. Animals can carry the bacterium without appearing ill and can contaminate foods of animal origin, such as meats and dairy products.

Transmission

Most human infections follow consumption of contaminated food. Rare cases of nosocomial transmission have been reported.  When Listeria bacteria get into a food processing factory, they can live there for years, sometimes contaminating food products. The bacterium has been found in a variety of raw foods, such as uncooked meats and vegetables, as well as in foods that become contaminated after cooking or processing, such as soft cheeses, processed meats such as hot dogs and deli meat (both products in factory-sealed packages and products sold at deli counters), and smoked seafood. Unpasteurized (raw) milk and cheeses and other foods made from unpasteurized milk are particularly likely to contain the bacterium.  Listeria is killed by pasteurization and cooking; however, in some ready-to-eat foods, such as hot dogs and deli meats, contamination may occur after factory cooking but before packaging. Unlike most bacteria, Listeria can grow and multiply in some foods in the refrigerator.

Diagnosis & Testing

How do I know if I have Listeriosis?

If you develop fever and chills while pregnant or if you are very sick with fever and muscle aches or stiff neck, consult your doctor immediately. A blood or spinal fluid test (to look for the bacteria) will show if you have listeriosis.

Clinical Diagnosis

Diagnosis is confirmed only after isolation of Listeria monocytogenes from a normally sterile site, such as blood, or from amniotic fluid or the placenta in the setting of pregnancy.Listeria monocytogenes can be isolated readily on routine media, but care must be taken to distinguish this organism from other Gram-positive rods, particularly diphtheroids. Selective enrichment media improve rates of isolation from contaminated specimens. Serological tests are unreliable, and not recommended at the present time.

Treatment & Outcomes

How is Listeriosis Treated?

  • Listeriosis is treated with antibiotics. A person in a high-risk category who experiences flu-like symptoms within 2 months of eating contaminated food should seek medical care and tell the physician or health care provider about eating the contaminated food.

  • If a person has eaten food contaminated with Listeria and does not have any symptoms, most experts believe that no tests or treatment are needed, even for persons at high risk for listeriosis.

Outcomes

Even with prompt treatment, some listeriosis cases result in death. This is particularly likely in older adults and in persons with other serious medical problems.

Contact Listeria Attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC

If you or a family member have become due to a suspected Listeria infection after consuming contaminated cantaloupe or other fruits or vegetables, can contact the experienced food poisoning attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC for legal advice.  If you are looking for lawyers to handle a possible Listeria contamination case, contact the New Jersey injury attorneys at Clark Law Firm, PC.  The injury attorneys at the Clark Law Firm, PC are experienced in contaminated food case and can provide you legal assistance in your Listeria and other foodborne illness matter.

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