cantaloupe.jpgThe cantaloupe Listeria outbreak linked to fruit from Jensen Farms in Colorado has sickened more than 50 people and killed at least 8.  And these numbers will surely go up.  It is has become a nightmare for many people, including our clients the families of several elderly folks who either passed away or remain in long term hospitalization.

The 2010 egg Salmonella outbreak and recall was a call to reflect on best food safety practices in the egg industry, as was the 2006 spinach E. coli outbreak a referendum on produce safety.  Maybe the 2011 cantaloupe Listeria outbreak will ultimately be a boon to food safety too. 

In any event, New Mexico has seen its share of foodpoisoning cases, partially because it is a FoodNet site, which is a collaborative epidemiological project with the CDC and several states and metro areas.  

The JBS E. coli outbreak in 2009 sickened Alex Roerick, then a 14 year old boy from Albuquerque. Alex ate dinner with his grandma on May 10, 2009. He began to experience flu-like symptoms including fatigue, fever, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting by May 13. Alex’s symptoms worsened and he was admitted to Presbyterian Hospital on May 15. He was released several days later, before being rushed back again due to severe bloody diarrhea. His doctors determined that Alex had developed hemolytic uremic syndrome, or HUS, a devastating complication of his E. coli O157:H7 infection. The genetic fingerprint of the E. coli found in Alex’s stool matches that of others sickened in the nationwide outbreak tied to recalled JBS Swift Beef. He continues to experience effects of his illness.

It is stories like these, just like those of our clients in the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak, that help industry comprehend and address the contamination problems they face.