A recent outbreak of listeria in cantaloupes has once again drawn attention to the safety nation’s food supply and the dangers of food borne illnesses.
The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning to consumers on Sept. 14 stating that cantaloupes from a grower in Colorado had been contaminated with the bacteria Listeria monocytogenes, which causes the disease listeriosis.
As of Oct. 6, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) counted 109 persons infected with listeriosis in 24 states. The disease has killed 21 people.
The bacteria can be found in the soil, which is often how produce is tainted. Animals can also be carriers of listeria. Pasteurization kills the listeria bacteria; however, any remaining cells can grow at refrigerated temperatures, making listeria a dangerous contaminant.
Listeriosis is characterized by fever, muscle aches, nausea and diarrhea. Symptoms can appear within a few days or may take months to develop. If the bacterial infection has spread into the nervous system, additional symptoms can include headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions.
For more on this story, please see the Oct. 27 issue of The Navarre Press.