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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NJ Office of Communications
609-984-7160

September 28, 2011-Consumers Advised to Discard Rocky Ford Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado

Consumers should discard Rocky Ford whole cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado that have been linked to a multi-state outbreak of listeriosis, an illness caused by consuming food contaminated with bacteria Listeria.

Listeria can cause a mild illness or a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greatest risk of serious illness. Most people not in high risk groups have mild or no illness. 

No cases of illness have been reported in New Jersey as a result of the outbreak that has resulted in 13 deaths nationwide. The Department advised local health departments to pull the product from store shelves if they see it and to notify the state. The recalled cantaloupes may have a sticker, which looks like this image. Not all of the recalled cantaloupes are labeled with a sticker.

Consumers should consult the retailer if they have questions about the origin of a cantaloupe. Rocky Ford cantaloupes from Jensen Farms should be disposed of in a closed plastic bag placed in a sealed trash can. This will prevent people or animals from eating them.

“People who think they might have become ill from eating contaminated cantaloupe should consult their doctor immediately,” said Acting Commissioner of Health and Senior Services Commissioner Dr. Tina Tan. “Patients can develop listeriosis up to two months after eating contaminated food,” Dr. Tan noted.

The recalled cantaloupes were shipped from July 29 through September 10, 2011 to the following states: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming.

New Jersey grown cantaloupes are not affected by the outbreak or voluntary recall, according to the state Department of Agriculture.

For melons not part of this recall, consumers should avoid foodborne illness by taking the following precautions:

  • Consumers and food preparers should wash their hands before and after handling any whole melon, such as cantaloupe, watermelon, or honeydew
  • Wash the melons and dry them with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting
  • Cut melon should be promptly consumed or refrigerated at or less than 40 degrees F (32-34 degrees F is best) for no more than 7 days 
  • Cut melons left at room temperature for more than 4 hours should be discarded.

More information about listeriosis and recommendations to reduce risk of getting Listeriosis from food can be found at the CDC's Listeriosis webpage or nj.gov/health/cd/documents/faq/listeriosis_faq.pdf

Food items other than cantaloupes can also carry Listeria bacteria. People can take steps to lower the risk by rinsing raw produce thoroughly in running tap water and drying the produce with a clean cloth or paper towel before cutting it up.

When preparing foods, follow general food safety guidelines, such as those at FoodSafety.gov .

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