Cantaloupe Deaths from Listeria Worsen, Plus 6 Tips to Avoid Listeria

Cantaloupe deaths in total have reached 16 since the outbreak of cantaloupe listeria began a few weeks ago. With 72 total illnesses reported, health officials are calling this the most deadly listeria outbreak in decades. And news today is that health officials expect the numbers in climb in the coming weeks. The key information to have so that you don’t panic about your cantaloupe consumption, is to know where your melon came from.

The heads of both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration have made it clear that the melons in question came from Jensen Farms in Colorado. If you know your cantaloupe came from that farm, throw it out. If you can’t determine where your cantaloupe came from? The CDC advises to toss it out as well. Jensen Farms in Holly, Colorado, ships cantaloupes to 25 states, though the listeria and illnesses have been discovered in several states that were not on the list of states Jensen ships to, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

So how to avoid listeria in general? Here are six tips to avoid this food-bourne illness:

  1. Cook all raw meat thoroughly, such as beef, pork or poultry.
  2. Wash raw vegetables thoroughly before eating.
  3. Keep uncooked meats separate from vegetables and from cooked foods and ready-to-eat foods.
  4. Avoid unpasteurized milk and dairy products.
  5. Wash hands, knives and cutting boards after handling uncooked foods. Use different cutting boards for meat.
  6. Consume perishable and ready-to-eat foods as soon as possible; don’t leave them sitting out.

Note that pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems should be even more stringent and steam luncheon meat, avoid soft cheeses, pates and smoked seafood.

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