Alan Bavley of the Kansas City Star did a great job putting a human face on a now nationwide listeria cantaloupe outbreak that has sickened 133 while killing 28.  His story – “Listeria traced to cantaloupe hits home for one KC family,” ran this morning.  Here is part:

GxqUU.Em.81.jpgPaul Schwarz used to eat a lot of cantaloupe, but not anymore.

At least some of the melons Schwarz enjoyed for breakfast this summer came from Jensen Farms, the Colorado grower whose cantaloupe contaminated with listeria bacteria have been responsible for the nation’s deadliest food-borne disease outbreak in 26 years.

The 92-year-old Kansas City man was knocked off his feet by a listeria infection called listeriosis and spent five weeks in the hospital. Now he’s recovering in a nursing home. And he’s become the first area resident with listeriosis to sue Jensen Farms. The suit has been filed in federal court.

“It’s just like he has brain trauma,” said his son, also Paul Schwarz. “His speech, enunciating is difficult. He’s bed- and wheelchair-bound. He needed to have his food cut into small pieces.”

We need more stories like this to drive home the point that these people our all of our friends and families.  This can happen to you or a loved one as easy as it happened to the Schwarz family.  And it did not have to happen:

… when the FDA inspected Jensen Farms in September, it told a different story. While there were no signs of listeria in the growing fields, the bacteria were found throughout the processing and storage areas.

Poor drainage allowed water to pool under machinery. Inspectors found listeria there.

The used washing and drying equipment the company installed in July was not easy to clean and had built-up dirt and residue from the cantaloupe. Inspectors found listeria there, as well.

FDA inspectors also found that discarded cantaloupe were hauled to a cattle operation. The truck was parked next to the packing plant. Listeria on workers or equipment may have been carried into the plant from the truck, the FDA suggested.

And after the cantaloupe were harvested and washed, they went straight into storage without being pre-cooled. The fruit, still warm with field heat, and with their rinds wet from washing, created an ideal environment for listeria to grow, the FDA said.

“The FDA report reads like an instruction manual on how not to raise cantaloupe,” said Drew Falkenstein, a lawyer with Marler Clark, the Seattle law firm representing Schwarz. “Once bacteria were introduced, it was an accident waiting to happen.”

But, an accident that could have been avoided.

  • I didn’t know this was still happening. I thought they caught all the infected melons?

  • Hans van den Broek

    Dear Mr. Bill Marler,
    Thank you for your good information what we in another Continent can use to learn what we must do to our own 27 Governments in the European Union.
    Since Politicans in Governments did allow GMO plants-bush-trees-seeds with their and other Toxic Chemicals and did allow IPM Integrated Pest Management we have now since the last 66 years (use the end of World War II 1940-1945) till now November 01, 2011 all ‘Fructose’ in our Fruit, Vegetables and example in Beeproducts as Pollen, Honey, Propolis, Royal Jelly, Bee Wax, Bee Venom, Wound-Honey, Api Therapy is allways contamniated with GMO’s in Europe is that now we can write 100% of CHEMICAL DUST I mean de Beeproducts.
    More important is the follow ‘Fructose’ in combination with Toxic Chemicals work as a Catalyst and let (when Cancer is in your body) Cancercells grow very fast special for your Pancreas and the results is mostly ‘Pancreas Cancer’ in this matter you know the name of Mr. Steve Jobs he die to young by this bad Pancreas-Cancer. Who is responsible the Politcians in the 194 Governments they allow this Genetic Modified Organisme? Now this year with more as Citizens on our planet the Earth we all must Breathe, Eat and Drink and nobody can’t runaway from this planet we must now Breathe in a lot Countries GMO-Pollen with their and other Toxic Chemicals. Since the year 1970 did allow Politicans in the USA the Pesticide Roundup (et al) with Glyphosate and their Metabolite of AMPA (the last is over 5.000 years with a Toxic Results) but only few people they know that we find in this Pesticide Roundup also the illness Cancer giving ‘Formaldehyde’ with other words this is a risk for all life. Perhaps is this the planning from a lot from the 194 Governments but when that is the truth we have a large problem ‘may’ our own Governments abuse the Pollinators as the Wind and Thermals, the Pollinators as Birds, Bats, Insects and abuse their Beekeepers with their Beecolonies to destroy by ‘Cross Pollination’ all our good old plants-bush-trees-seeds and poisoning our Environment- and Biodiversity? Think in this matter also on Women with a Fetus-Baby in their belley they all Breathe, Eat and Drink in a lot cases GMO-Pollen with Toxic Chemicals.
    It is the reason that we in the European Union with 27 European Countries try to STOP this CRIME it is perhaps the biggest CRIME in our Human history.
    Please let me know what you think about this matter.
    Best regards from a Citizen-Beekeeper in the Netherlands
    Hans van den Broek
    Stalen Enk 16
    6881 BR Velp
    Phone +31 26 362 1449