Two Things That Don’t Mix Well: Cantaloupe and Listeria

September 19 2011, 3:45 PM

It can’t be all that dangerous to nosh on a carrot or a tomato without giving it a good scrub first, right?

Wrong. Just ask more than 20 folks hit with listeria, a gastrointestinal illness that can cause death. Rocky Ford cantaloupe--one of Colorado's sweetest exports-- has been pulled from grocery stores shelves nationwide.

We've seen outbreaks like this before (there are two to four each year in the United States), but not with Colorado cantaloupe. In 2010, sprouts from Specialty-Farms were recalled for listeria contamination. There have also been similar scares with tomatoes, jalapenos, and cilantro, which were all recalled for salmonella contamination in 2008. (Guacamole just wasn't the same for a while.)

Now, Colorado's melons are under attack, and DNA testing has singled out Jensen Farms (near Holly), which is recalling shipments to 17 states. With all this negative press for the honeydew's less green relative, farmers are facing economic repercussions.

What does this all mean? Scrub your veggies and fruit tonight.

Best Quote "'This is really silly. You can get Listeria any place. I eat those melons every day,’ said Kent Lusk, a fifth-generation cantaloupe farmer from Rocky Ford.”