The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford cantaloupes are one of three sources attributed to a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis. Jensen Farms in Holly voluntarily pulled its produce from the marketplace once it received word from state and health officials.
The bacteria was found by the FDA in cantaloupe samples from a store and a packing facility, as well as equipment at the facility. The bacteria traces match one of three strains involved in the outbreak of listeriosis, the first time that cantaloupe has been a source of the contamination. Although Rocky Ford brands have been named in the outbreak, area farmers pointed out the term is generally linked to various farming operations in southeastern Colorado and the Arkansas Valley and not specific only to the Rocky Ford community.
Thirty-five persons have been affected by the bacteria and four have died. The shipments of cantaloupe have been traced to various stores in seventeen states, and more states may have received the produce through additional shipments. The FDA recommends throwing away any cantaloupe with the Rocky Ford label or brand as a safety precaution. The contaminated portion of the rough, outer skin can be transferred to the edible portion of the fruit, either by cutting, or by use of hands.
The Colorado Department of Health and Environment is investigating how the fruit was contaminated possibly at a point between the farming operation, handling and subsequent distribution to various states.