Colorado Farm Says Listeria Found In Its Cantaloupe

Melons From Jensen Farm In Holly Were Distributed Across Country

Jensen Farms of Holly announced Wednesday that it is voluntarily recalling its shipments of Rocky Ford cantaloupes because of their potential to be contaminated with listeria.

A company spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday night that one of the Jensen cantaloupes, sampled from a store, tested positive for listeria.

The cantaloupes were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10 and distributed throughout Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, Kansas, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois, Minnesota, Missouri, Tennessee, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Several Colorado grocery stores have removed cantaloupe from shelves, though there has been no official recall.

Jensen Farms is the first and only farm to have voluntarily recalled its cantaloupe.

The whole 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 is requesting anyone who may have one of these cantaloupes to toss out the melons.

The company is working with the state and the Food and Drug Administration to inform consumers of this recall.

Jensen Farms Responds

“Jensen Farms continues to stay committed to the highest levels of food safety and maintains many third party safety audits, as we have for many years. We continually look for ways to enhance our protocol,” said Ryan Jensen, partner at Jensen Farms.

Company spokeswoman Amy Philpott made a number of points regarding the recall:

  • The company is run by two brothers who are quite upset that anyone might be getting sick from their cantaloupe. They stopped production on Monday when the State of Colorado issued a general listeria alert for the melons from their region.
  • On Monday afternoon, Jensen began working with their marketing company to get customers to pull the melons off the shelves.
  • They don't know how many melons are being recalled.
  • Jensen produces about 40 percent of the cantaloupes from this region.
  • This is very unusual. Listeria is typically associated with processing. However, this outbreak involves whole melons. Even scientists are puzzled.
  • State investigators have been on the farm, swabbing harvest equipment and packing equipment.
  • Jensen also grows wheat, pumpkin, alfalfa and corn.

    "This company is really, really emotionally impacted by this and they wanted to do the right thing … being proactive," Philpott said.

    Jensen Farms is a third generation family farm based in Holly.

    Consumers with questions may contact Jensen Farms via email at recall@rfordcantaloupe.com or by calling 1-800-267-4561 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. MST.

    Cantaloupes from Colorado have been linked to four deaths and 16 cases of listeria.

    L. monocytogenes is a bacterium that can contaminate foods and cause a mild non-invasive illness (called listerial gastroenteritis) or a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness (called invasive listeriosis).

    Listeriosis is a rare and serious illness that mostly affects older adults, pregnant women, newborns and those with compromised immune systems.

    A person who comes down with it usually experiences fever, muscle aches, diarrhea and confusion. The infection almost always spreads to the gastrointestinal tract, and it can cause miscarriages and stillbirths in pregnant women, according to health officials.

    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned of the multi-state outbreak that health officials believe originated from the popular Rocky Ford cantaloupes, which are produced in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado. The cases were reported in several states: Colorado, Texas, Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Montana, and four have died. Health officials say most consumed whole cantaloupes, most likely marketed from Rocky Ford in Colorado.

    Typically, Colorado sees about 10 cases of listeria per year.

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