It's enough to make you stop wanting to eat cantaloupes. Back in October 2011, I wrote a series of legal blog entries about the listeriosis outbreak coming from cantaloupes coming from Jensen Farms in Colorado. More than 123 people became sick from a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes, and 25 of them died.
Just when you thought the sweet, soft orange fruit was safe again, a North Carolina company is now recalling its cantaloupes, again due to Listeria monocytogenes bacteria. A Faison, North Carolina company called Burch Equipment LLC, also known as Burch Farms, is recalling not just cantaloupes, but also honeydew melons.
On August 10, 2012, a Food & Drug Administration press released announced that the cantaloupe recall is being expanded to cover the entire growing season's crop of cantaloupes and honeydew melons because they could be contaminated with listeria.
The recall began in New York, but the fruit being recalled apparently was sold to distributors throughout the United States. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said the fruit was sold in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia. Unfortunately, no one believes the recall will stop there. The distributors in these states, "may have further distributed them to other states," according to the FDA.
So far, no one has been confirmed to be ill because of eating the cantaloupe or honeydew melons from Burch farms. However, listeria incubates for a period anywhere from three days to more than two months, so some serious illnesses may still occur.
Listeria can cause mild symptoms, ranging from fever to diarrhea and intestinal problems, but it also can cause life-threatening symptoms, particular in the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and people weakened immune systems, from AIDS, radiation treatments for cancer, or for any other reason.
The listeria bacteria can cause a serious disease called listeriosis. It particularly affects children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems. Pregnant women exposed to the bacteria may become ill and may suffer stillbirths.
The incubation period for Listeria monocytogenes varies widely, and can range from 3 days to 70, according to the FDA. Because the incubation period can be so long, consumers who have eaten cantaloupe or honeydew melons will have to be alert for the symptoms for quite some time to come.
The Burch cantaloupes that are included in the recall have a red label that says "Burch Farms" and "PLU # 4319". Some may have a "Cottle Strawberry, Inc." sticker that references "PLU #4319." The FDA explains that the cantaloupes were shipped in boxes of nine, and also were shipped in bulk in bins.
Unfortunately, the Burch honeydew melons that are being recalled do not have any identifying stickers and were packed in cartons labeled simply as melons.
According to the press release, the recall now encompasses fruit distributed in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia. The FDA warns that "the melons may have further been distributed to retail stores, restaurants and food service facilities in other states."
The symptoms of listeriosis can includ a high fever, severe headache, muscle aches or stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. A client I represented in a listeria lawsuit became so ill he wound up in a coma for several weeks.