Press release: Listeria outbreak tracked to at least one Colorado grower

Jensen Farms, of Holly, Colo., is voluntarily recalling their shipments of Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria. The company is working with the State of Colorado and the Federal Food & Drug Administration to inform consumers of this recall. L. monocytogenes is a bacterium that can contaminate foods and cause a mild non-invasive illness (called listerial gastroenteritis) or a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness (called invasive listeriosis). Persons who have the greatest risk of experiencing listeriosis after consuming foods contaminated with L. monocytogenes are fetuses and neonates who are infected after the mother is exposed to L. monocytogenes during pregnancy, the elderly, and persons with weakened immune systems.

The whole cantaloupes in question were shipped between July 29th, 2011 and September 10th, 2011, and distributed to the following states: IL, WY, TN, UT, TX, CO, MN, KS, NM, NC, MO, NE, OK, AZ, NJ, NY, PA. The whole cantaloupes have 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. If the whole cantaloupe is unlabeled, please contact your retail store for sourcing information. Jensen Farms is requesting any consumer that may have one of these cantaloupes to please destroy the products.

The recall involves only whole cantaloupe shipped by Jensen Farms, and no other commodities are involved. Jensen Farms feels it is prudent to participate in the recall as the State of Colorado has stated (in their September 12th, 2011 press release) that people at a high risk for infection should not eat whole cantaloupe from the Rocky Ford growing region.

“Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third party safety audits, as we have for many years. We continually look for ways to enhance our protocol,” said Ryan Jensen, partner at Jensen Farms. Jensen Farms is a 3rd generation family farm of the Holly, Colorado community.

Consumers with questions may contact Jensen Farms via email at recall@rfordcantaloupe.com or phone 1-800-267-4561 between the hours of 9am and 4pm MST.

The New Mexico Environmental Health Bureau has identified two macro-distributors of Jensen Farms cantaloupe in New Mexico: Basila Produce in Albuquerque & Wal-Mart Distribution in Los Lunas. State inspectors have found the cantaloupe named in this recall in several Wal-Marts and Whole Foods. These stores are in the process of removing the recalled cantaloupe and are taking additional precautions to properly dispose destroyed cantaloupe. State inspectors are also working with state distributors to identify other specific store locations where the recalled cantaloupe was shipped, and will work to have the product removed from store shelves, and have immediate areas thoroughly cleaned.

To date, the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) has identified ten patients hospitalized with Listeria infection in the last 3 weeks, including 3 fatalities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed by DNA fingerprinting tests that the first four New Mexico cases are part of the multi-state Listeriosis outbreak linked to cantaloupes from the Rocky Ford region of Colorado. Test results on the other cases are pending. The New Mexico Environment Department’s Environmental Health Bureau (EHB) issued a voluntary recall notice to state produce retailers yesterday, requesting that any cantaloupe grown in the Rocky Ford growing area of southern Colorado be pulled from store shelves.

For more details: www.nmhealth.org