It’s enough to make you stop wanting to eat cantaloupes. Back in
October 2011, I wrote a series of legal blog entries about the listeriosis
outbreak coming from cantaloupes coming from Jensen Farms in Colorado.
More than 123 people became sick from a bacteria called Listeria monocytogenes,
and 25 of them died.
Just when you thought the sweet, soft orange fruit was safe again, a North
Carolina company is now recalling its cantaloupes, again due to Listeria
monocytogenes bacteria. A Faison, North Carolina company called Burch
Equipment LLC, also known as Burch Farms, is recalling not just cantaloupes,
but also honeydew melons.
On August 10, 2012, a Food & Drug Administration press released announced that the
cantaloupe recall is being expanded to cover the entire growing season’s crop of cantaloupes and honeydew
melons because they could be contaminated with listeria.
The recall began in New York, but the fruit being recalled apparently was
sold to distributors throughout the United States. The Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) has said the fruit was sold in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky,
Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont
and West Virginia. Unfortunately, no one believes the recall will stop
there. The distributors in these states, “may have further distributed
them to other states,” according to the FDA.
So far, no one has been confirmed to be ill because of eating the cantaloupe
or honeydew melons from Burch farms. However, listeria incubates for a
period anywhere from three days to more than two months, so some serious
illnesses may still occur.
Listeria can cause mild symptoms, ranging from fever to diarrhea and intestinal
problems, but it also can cause life-threatening symptoms, particular
in the elderly, pregnant women, infants, and people weakened immune systems,
from AIDS, radiation treatments for cancer, or for any other reason.
The listeria bacteria can cause a serious disease called listeriosis. It
particularly affects children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune
systems. Pregnant women exposed to the bacteria may become ill and may
The incubation period for Listeria monocytogenes varies widely, and can
range from 3 days to 70, according to the FDA. Because the incubation
period can be so long, consumers who have eaten cantaloupe or honeydew
melons will have to be alert for the symptoms for quite some time to come.
The Burch cantaloupes that are included in the recall have a red label
that says “Burch Farms” and “PLU # 4319”. Some
may have a “Cottle Strawberry, Inc.” sticker that references
“PLU #4319.” The FDA explains that the cantaloupes were shipped
in boxes of nine, and also were shipped in bulk in bins.
Unfortunately, the Burch honeydew melons that are being recalled do not
have any identifying stickers and were packed in cartons labeled simply
According to the press release, the recall now encompasses fruit distributed
in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine,
Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania,
South Carolina, Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia. The FDA warns that
“the melons may have further been distributed to retail stores,
restaurants and food service facilities in other states.”
symptoms of listeriosis can includ a high fever, severe headache, muscle aches or stiffness, nausea,
abdominal pain and diarrhea. A client I represented in a listeria lawsuit
became so ill he wound up in a coma for several weeks.