In one of the deadliest outbreaks of listeria in the U.S. in more than 10 years, at least 18 people have died and more than 100 have become ill across numerous states because of cantaloupe contaminated with listeria. Most of those who died were over the age of 60, while at least two were over 90.

The recall of Holly, Colo.-based Rocky Ford whole cantaloupe grown by Jensen Farms was initially reported Sept. 14 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The recall of cantaloupes has been expanded, according to Oct. 6 reports, to Fruit Fresh Up of Depew, N.Y.

The Fruit Fresh Up involved 4,800 individual packages of fresh cut cantaloupe and cut mixed fruit containing cantaloupe because of the potential for listeria contamination.

L. monocytogenes is a bacterium that can contaminate foods and cause a mild non-invasive illness (called listerial gastroenteritis) or a severe, sometimes life-threatening, illness (called invasive listeriosis). Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Otherwise healthy people may suffer temporary systems such as high fever, severe headache, stiffness, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria can cause miscarriages and stillbirths among pregnant women.

The fresh cut fruit involved in this latest recall was sold between Aug. 31 and Sept. 11, and consisted of the following products: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays. "Best-if-used-by" dates on the packages ranged from Sept. 4 through Sept. 11.

In the earlier recall, possibly contaminated products were shipped between July 29 and Sept. 10, and distributed to the following states: IL, WY, TN, UT, TX, CO, MN, KS, NM, NC, MO, NE, OK, AZ, NJ, NY, PA. The product sticker on the outside of the fruit was green and white and read "Product of USA- Frontera Produce-Colorado Fresh-Rocky Ford-Cantaloupe," or gray, yellow and green sticker that read "Jensen Farms-Sweet Rocky Fords."

Jensen Farms requested that any consumer that may have one of the contaminated cantaloupes should destroy the product.

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