Miscarriage caused by tainted cantaloupe

Oct. 7, 2011 at 3:21 PM
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DES MOINES, Iowa, Oct. 7 (UPI) -- Iowa public health officials say a pregnant woman who had eaten cantaloupe and later miscarried had the same strain of listeria tied to 18 U.S. deaths.

The woman, whose name hasn't been made public, told state investigators she bought cantaloupe at an Iowa store a few weeks ago and state health officials said they strongly suspect the melon came from Jensen Farms in Colorado -- which recalled cantaloupes Sept. 14 due to listeria -- but they haven't proven it yet, The Des Moines (Iowa) Register reported.

Dr. Patricia Quinlisk, medical director at the Iowa Department of Public Health, said listeria bacteria are particularly harmful to fetuses and infections regularly cause miscarriages.

Quinlisk said about eight or 10 serious listeriosis cases are reported annually in the state and everyone should take food safety precautions to reduce their risk of a foodborne pathogen, but occasional bacterial outbreaks shouldn't keep people from eating produce.

Fewer than 20 percent of Iowans eat the government-recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, which can reduce the risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer, so there is more health risk if people don't eat fruit and vegetables, Quinlisk warned.

Iowa authorities had been told that none of the listeria-tainted melons were shipped to Iowa but the woman told health officials she bought the cantaloupe from an Iowa store weeks ago. Major Iowa grocery chains said they didn't carry melon from Jensen Farms but state officials said several Iowa stores were being checked to see if they had purchased any cantaloupe from the Colorado farm.

Meanwhile, a New York company announced a recall of around 4,800 packages of fresh-cut cantaloupe and cut mixed fruit containing cantaloupe.

Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, N.Y., said wasn't advised of the possible listeria contamination of the cantaloupe it purchased from an independent wholesaler until Sept. 27, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration release reported.

The recall covers packages of cut fruit in Buffalo, N.Y., and surrounding areas in retail stores and through catering orders, the company said.

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