Reports that 29 people died and 139 others became ill across the United States due to a listeria monocytogenes outbreak at a Colorado cantaloupe farm are calling into question whether more frequent inspections should be conducted at farms involved in such food production. The deaths mostly affected older adults with the youngest being 48 and the oldest was 96 years old. Also, listeria is particularly deadly for women who are pregnant. One pregnant woman reported a miscarriage after becoming sick from listeria.
In one of the most deadly outbreaks recorded in U.S. history, the listeria deaths were reported in the following states: Eight in Colorado, five in New Mexico, three in Kansas, two each in New York, Texas and Missouri, and one each in Indiana, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Wyoming.
It’s possible that there could be more reported cases of listeria linked to the cantaloupes because it can take up to two months before the illness emerges after the fruit is eaten. Also, listeria thrives on cold environments such as the inside of a refrigerator.
Personal injury law firms are taking moving quickly to help those affected by the illness. Defendant Jensen Farms is facing at least eight lawsuits to date filed by personal injury lawyers on behalf of the families of victims of the listeria outbreak including the most recent one filed in Dallas, Texas on behalf of 89-year-old Marie Jones.
“Sadly the victims who ate these tainted cantaloupes had no way to know it would make them sick, but those who are responsible for this unsafe product being on the market must be held accountable,” said West Seegmiller, a personal injury lawyer at Seegmiller Law Firm.
Every year there are roughly 1,600 cases of listeria reported in the United States and an estimated 260 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The bacteria forms in soil, water and manure, and it is normally associated with animal products.
The tainted Rocky Ford brand cantaloupes were traced to Jensen Farms and a recall was imposed on Sept. 14. Next, inspectors visited the plant first on Sept. 22, and then on the 23rd. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, inspections conducted at the packing facility at Jensen Farms where the listeria-laden cantaloupes originated determined several unsanitary practices contributed to the outbreak.
They found water pooling up on the floor hindering the cleaning and maintenance of the packing equipment and the farm neglected to cool cantaloupes prior to putting them into cold storage creating condensation that can allow the germ to develop. Both these procedures may have led to the development of the listeria germs, state and federal government officials reported.
The plant was not due for inspection for at least five years, but officials now believe more inspections are necessary to prevent this happening in the future.
Seegmiller Law Firm, headquartered in Irvine, California, has close to 30 years of experience handling personal injury claims on behalf of its clients. Should you or a family member be sickened by listeria or another food-borne illness it’s important to seek treatment immediately, preserve evidence and contact a personal injury law firm with first-hand experience.
Call 1-877-426-0695 to talk with the legal experts at Seegmiller Law Firm today for a free consultation to determine if you have a case against another party.