The outbreak of listeria linked to cantaloupes that killed 25 people will go down as the deadliest food poisoning episode in the United States in a quarter of a century and could spark lawsuits. This tragic food poisoning episode is being looked into the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Bloomberg Business week reports.
Members of the committee have asked for a briefing from officials at the Colorado (CO) cantaloupe farm linked to the listeria outbreak, and asked that documents are preserved.
In all the disease affected 123 people in 26 states and goes down as the deadliest U.S. food outbreak in more than a quarter-century.
“The committee has a long bipartisan history of conducting food safety oversight and is very concerned about these recent developments,” the letter to the farm stated.
Bloomberg reported that health inspectors “found widespread contamination and poor sanitary practices at the packing facility,” linked to the outbreak.
The listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes was even more serious than the 2009 salmonella in peanut products outbreak that led to eight deaths and 107 hospitalizations.
Listeria outbreaks often happen several times per year, but they are usually linked to deli meats and cheeses, and are seldom on this scale. While most healthy adults can ingest listeria with few negative effects, elderly people and pregnant women are especially vulnerable. The median age of those sickened in the tainted melon outbreak is 78.
It seems hard to believe this case will not end up in lawsuits, given the apparent insanitary conditions at the Colorado cantaloupe plant. Out attorneys have represented families of deceased people in many wrongful death cases and achieved large payouts including an $8.6 million jury verdict in one of these cases.