Report on the Investigation of the Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in Cantaloupe at Jensen Farms

On January 10, the US House of Representative’s Committee on Energy and Commerce released a “Report on the Investigation of the Outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in Cantaloupe at Jensen Farms”.  The following is an excerpt from the report:

FDA officials cited several deficiencies in Jensen Farms’ facility, which reflected a general lack of awareness of food safety principles and may have contributed to the outbreak, including:

  • Condensation from cooling systems draining directly onto the floor,
  • Poor drainage resulting in water pooling around the food processing equipment,
  • Inappropriate food processing equipment which was difficult to clean (i.e., Listeria found on the felt roller brushes),
  • No antimicrobial solution, such as chlorine, in the water used to wash the cantaloupes, and
  • No equipment to remove field heat from the cantaloupes before they were placed into cold storage.

FDA officials were highly critical of the processing methods used at Jensen Farms. According to these FDA officials, the probable causes of the melon contamination at Jensen Farms included “serious design flaws” in the processing technique used at Jensen Farms, “poor sanitary design of the facility itself,” and “lack of awareness of food safety standards by Jensen Farms.” In particular, FDA emphasized to Committee staff that the processing equipment and the decision not to chlorinate the water used to wash the cantaloupes were two probable causes of the contamination.

The full report is available at: http://republicans.energycommerce.house.gov/Media/file/PDFs/011012listeriastaffreport.pdf

 

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About Les Bourquin

Professor and Food Safety Specialist Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition Michigan State University
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