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FDA Expands Cantaloupe Recall

Thousands of pounds of cantaloupes have been recalled in recent weeks due to concern about listeria contamination.  The most recent recall includes nearly 600 pounds of fresh-cut cantaloupe shipped from Carol's Cuts LLC in Kansas City.  The cantaloupe was sold in 5-pound trays as chunks and as an ingredient in 8-ounce containers of mixed fruit medley.

This latest recall expands on the previous voluntary recall on September 14, 2011 of whole Rocky Ford cantaloupes that were grown and shipped by Jensen Farms in Colorado.  Jensen Farms has ceased product and distribution of its cantaloupes while it, along with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), conducts an investigation what may have caused the contamination.  The recalled Jensen Farms cantaloupes were shipped between July 29th, 2011 and September 10th 2011, and distributed to a variety of states, including Illinois.  The cantaloupes have a green and white sticker that reads: "Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe" or a gray, yellow, and green sticker that reads: "Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords."  Jensen Farms has requested that consumers with one of the recalled cantaloupes destroy the product.

The cantaloupes have been recalled due to concerns that they are contaminated with listeria, a foodborne illness that can cause stillbirths, illness and death.  To date, the listeria outbreak has been blamed for at least 84 illnesses and 15 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The Carol's Cuts products were shipped to customers on Aug. 26 and Sept. 12 and distributed to institutional food customers, including restaurants in Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska. Carol's Cuts has notified all institutional customers of the recall, asking that the contaminated cantaloupe be returned or destroyed.

Del Monte Recall

Earlier this year - in March 2011 - Del Monte recalled nearly 5,000 cartons of whole cantaloupes grown and shipped from a farm in Guatemala based on the suspicion that they were contaminated with Salmonella.  Shortly after the recall, however, questions regarding the accuracy of the recall began surfacing since the cantaloupes in question were already past their usable shelf life.   The FDA imposed an import alert in July 2011 on fresh, frozen and sliced/chopped cantaloupes from the Guatemalan farm growing and shipping the suspect cantaloupes based on concerns that Salmonella contamination was likely caused by sewage-tainted irrigation water, contaminated wash water, worker hygiene issues, animals in the fields and/or unclean processing equipment.

Del Monte subsequently filed a lawsuit in August 22, 2011 against the FDA, alleging that "erroneous speculation, unsupported by scientific evidence," led to the March 2011 recall of Guatemalan cantaloupes.   Del Monte requested that the court deem the FDA's actions restricting importation unlawful, set aside importation restrictions, and prohibit the FDA from enforcing the importation restrictions in the future.

Food Safety Recommendations

In an updated press release issued on September 30, 2011, the FDA advised consumers that, since listeria can grow at refrigerator temperatures, the longer ready-to-eat foods are stored in the refrigerator, the more opportunity the bacteria has to grow.  The FDA recommends that consumers follow the following food safety tips:


  • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling food.

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops and sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water.  Use a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used to dry the surfaces.

  • Immediately clean up spills in the refrigerator.

  • Always wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitization process.


The Chicago product liability attorneys at Steinberg, Goodman & Kalish are dedicated to protecting victims of personal injury, medical malpractice and product liability claims.  If you would like more information on foodborne illnesses, contact one of our skilled Illinois product liability attorneys to discuss a possible personal injury or product liability claim.

Steinberg Goodman & Kalish  (www.sgklawyers.com) is dedicated to protecting victims and their families.  We handle medical malpractice, product liability, personal injury, wrongful death, auto accidents, professional negligence, birth trauma, and railroad law matters. Contact us at (800) 784-0150 or (312) 782-1386.

 

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