According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), unsanitary conditions at a Jensen Farms packing plant in Colorado were responsible for a catastrophic Listeria outbreak. Last month witnessed the country’s deadliest foodborne outbreak in 25 years when cantaloupes, containing traces of a dangerous bacterium, were responsible for killing approximately two dozen people and hospitalizing many more. The outbreak marked the first time a Listeria contamination had been linked to whole, fresh cantaloupe.
Last August, two cases of Listeria infection were reported on the same day in Colorado. Subsequently, the reports captured the attention of healthcare officials who, in association with the FDA, quickly traced the origins of the infectious bacterium to Jensen Farms. Lab tests conducted by the FDA confirmed their findings and were released in an FDA Press Release.
While state officials provided a timely response to the cantaloupe recall, it was too late. By late August and mid September, Listeria infections peaked. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 123 people from 26 states were affected by the contaminated cantaloupe. Reports acknowledged that the elderly and those with weak immune systems were the most vulnerable to contracting Listeria infections. The median age of the 25 people who died from the outbreak was 87.
As recent as Wednesday, officials at the FDA blamed the outbreak on unsanitary conditions on the farm’s off-site packing facility. The agency acknowledged that the facility was poorly designed, allowing water to pool on the floors. Its equipment was difficult to clean, and therefore susceptible to harboring harmful bacterium. Subsequently, the new washer and dryer system had also been used on raw potatoes that may have been decayed, providing Listeria with optimal growing conditions.
Officials also revealed that the farm’s failure to pre-cool the cantaloupes may have accelerated the growth of the pathogen. According to the company, they neglected the important step that extracts the heat from the cantaloupes before they are refrigerated. As a result, failure to pre-cool the fruit may have contributed to condensation and moist surfaces that encouraged the Listeria to grow.
The company’s neglect to provide a sanitary environment forced the FDA to write them a stern warning letter. According to the letter, officials requested a documented account of how Jensen Farms plans to prevent a repeat of a similar outbreak. All indications suggest that the company is cooperating with the FDA to ensure that their practices provide consumers with safe fruit by next season.
Do I Have a Cantaloupe Recall Lawsuit?
The trial lawyers at The Senators (Ret.) Firm, LLP have decades of experience navigating through complex legislative and regulatory issues and litigating high stakes cases all over the nation. Our law firm focuses on the representation of plaintiffs in cantaloupe recall lawsuits. We are currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Again, if you or a loved one has been injured by listeria, you should contact our lawyers immediately by clicking the link below or calling toll free 1-(949) 557-5800. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and we can help.