FDA Investigating Listeria Outbreak Linked to Colorado Cantaloupes

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration just announced that it is collaborating with the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as state health agencies to look into a multi-state <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/topics/overview/listeria">Listeria poisoning outbreak.

At least 15 people infected with the same outbreak strain of Listeria monocytogenes have been reported in Colorado, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, to date. Public health officials at the state and local level have spoken with most of those who have reported falling ill and most confirm that they consumed whole cantaloupes. It is believed the potentially contaminated cantaloupes were likely marketed from the Rocky Ford growing region in Colorado.

The FDA and state health officials are aggressively working to figure out where in the food chain the contamination took place and to where the possibly contaminated fruit was distributed. The groups have collected product and environmental samples; laboratory testing is in progress.

Consumption of food contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes can cause listeriosis, which is potentially fatal. Listeriosis can cause high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, abdominal cramps and pain, diarrhea, and nausea, and can also cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in those with weakened immune systems, such as infants, the elderly, and persons with HIV infection or undergoing chemotherapy.

For susceptible people, listeriosis can cause significant illnesses linked to the central nervous system, including in the developing fetus. Listeriosis infects about 2,500 people in the U.S., killing 500 annually.

Listeria poisoning is of particular concern to pregnant women, who are 20 times likelier to be infected with listeriosis, which can kill fetuses, causing miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women. Listeriosis can also prompt premature births, can lead to hearing loss or brain damage in newborns, and can prompt neurological effects and cardio respiratory failure in adults.

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