Scientists trying to determine how cantaloupes linked to deadly U.S. Listeria outbreak became contaminated; focus of probe is on processing equipment at Colorado's Jensen Farms

LOS ANGELES , September 29, 2011 () – Scientists are trying to find out how cantaloupes linked to the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak since 1998 became contaminated with Listeria, Bloomberg reported Sept. 29.

“Bacteria on the outside can be internalized, or get inside the cantaloupe if they’re not washed properly,” said Lawrence Goodridge, associate professor of food microbiology at Colorado State University. “It can be very complicated to figure out, and in many cases the actual reason for the contamination is not found.”

The outbreak has been traced to Jensen Farms in Grenada, Colorado. Scientists are checking the company's processing equipment to try to find out how the bacteria entered the inside of the fruit.

At least 13 deaths have resulted from listerosis illness linked to the fruit. Scientists expect more illnesses because people can take as long as two months to become sick, said Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden.

The primary source of this article is Bloomberg, New York, New York, on Sept. 29, 2011.

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