The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has announced that there have now been 22 deaths directly linked to the listeria outbreak. The tainted cantaloupe has sickened over 109 people in 20 states. The CDC has expanded the number of affected states to 24 states as of October 10.
Listeria is a bacterium that is linked to animals and is found in the soil or water. Affected animals can carry the bacteria without ever showing signs of illness. On average, 1600 cases of listeria illness are reported each year in the United States, with an average of 260 deaths.
This is the first listeria outbreak that has been associated with cantaloupes. A Colorado farm first recalled the affected melons on the 14th of September. It is has been estimated that over 300,000 cantaloupes were recalled at that time. Jensen Farms or Granada is actively working with the Food and Drug Administration to find out how the cantaloupes become infected.
The cantaloupes have now surpassed their shelf life, and it is easy to assume that any infected melons are no longer on the shelf. However, 20% of the tainted shipment was sold to wholesalers that use the melon in their products. These products may be on the shelf and the CDC is actively tracking down these products.