Worst of listeria outbreak over
Death toll has reached 26 victims.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Wednesday that unsanitary conditions at a Colorado farm's packing facility may be the cause of one of the worst outbreaks of listeria in modern US history.
Jensen Farms remains closed pending further FDA inspections.
At least 123 cases have been reported in 26 states, and 26 of those people (including one unborn baby ) have died. The current outbreak is the deadliest food-borne illness outbreak in the United States since 1998. Most of the fatalities were elderly people with weakened immune systems.
FDA officials believe unsanitary conditions in the Jensen Farms packing facility are related to the outbreak. While the FDA cannot confirm they are the cause of the outbreak, they do not question that poor sanitation practices in the facility at least made the outbreak worse.
The FDA also pointed out that Jansen Farms' the food handling procedures were also unsafe. Specifically, the packing facility lacked a "pre-cooling step" to remove field heat from the fruit prior to cold storage. Skipping this step probably lead to condensation on the fruit which promoted the growth of listeria.
The FDA is giving the company 15 days to document steps they are taking to correct problems they found during their inspections.
Jensen Farms has announced they intend to address and correct all of the concerns raised by FDA officials, and would also agree to additional inspection by the FDA of its growing, packaging, and cold storage operations before it resumes production.
News of the outbreak spread rapidly after September 14, when Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of its cantaloupes. During the recall, CDC officials noted that refrigerating the cantaloupe would not kill the bacteria since it can live in a wide range of temperatures including under refrigeration, and within the human body.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: listeria, outbreak, Jensen Farms, Colorado, cantaloupe
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