Avoiding Listeria: When in Doubt, Throw it Out

While the bacteria is located on the outside of the cantaloupe, the edible part of the fruit is easily contaminated.

While the bacteria is located on the outside of the cantaloupe, the edible part of the fruit is easily contaminated.

Recently, an outbreak of listeria has captured the media spotlight. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, illnesses associated with the outbreak were first reported on July 31. Since then, 13 deaths have been linked to the outbreak, including two in Texas, while 72 others have reported illnesses due to the bacteria.

An investigation by local, state and federal public health officials have identified the source of the outbreak as whole cantaloupes, grown at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colo. The Federal Drug Administration said the company announced a voluntary recall on Sept. 14.

According to Todd Bell, M.D., serious listeria infections are uncommon, but are more likely in those considered high-risk. People in the high-risk category include newborns, pregnant women, older adults and those with weakened immune systems. Bell said outside of that group, people could be exposed to the bacteria and never show any signs or symptoms.

Listeria symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Muscle aches
  • Neck stiffness
  • Confusion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Loss of balance

One problem with this outbreak is that even though the bacterium is located on the outside of the cantaloupe, it’s easy to contaminate the part we eat.

“When someone is cutting the cantaloupe then they may have a difficult time being able to clean the peel and may contaminate the part of the cantaloupe you eat,” Bell said.

Bell stressed that if you have recently eaten cantaloupe and start to exhibit any of the symptoms, it is important that you make an appointment to see your physician. Illnesses associated with the bacteria are generally treated with antibiotics.

The CDC said other cantaloupes not from Jensen Farms are safe to eat. However, if you are uncertain about where your cantaloupe is from, they urge you to follow the “when in doubt, throw it out,” rule.

Related Stories

How Does Your Garden Grow?

As spring approaches, some people’s thoughts turn to gardening. Whether it’s a flower garden they desire or a vegetable garden want to have, they begin planning what they’ll plant and what they need to do to ensure a successful garden.

Adopt a Growth Mindset for a Better Life

A “growth mindset” accepts that our intelligence and talents can develop over time, and a person with that mindset understands that intelligence and talents can improve through effort and learning.

Drug Use, Family History Can Lead to Heart Disease in Younger Adults

Abstaining from drug abuse and an early diagnosis of familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol) can help prevent heart disease.

Recent Stories


Twelve Full-Time TTUHSC Researchers Named to Latest World’s Top 2% of Scientists Rankings

Last fall, Stanford University/Elsevier’s sixth edition of the World’s Top 2% of Scientists List was released and included 12 full-time and three part-time researchers from TTUHSC.


Current Guidelines Advise Monitoring, Vigilance for Avian Flu

Monitoring the severity of infections of cattle and humans with flu H5N1 can be complex, with several factors at play.


TTUHSC SHP Ranks Among the Top in Texas and the Nation

A number of platforms, including U.S. News and World Report, released rankings highlighting the best Health Sciences University programs. The School of Health Professions programs ranked among the top.