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Colorado Cantalope Farmers Arrested for Listeria Outbreak That Killed 33
HOLLY, Colo. — ...The cantaloupe growers' farm is considered the source of a national listeria outbreak that killed at least 33 and sickened another 147 people in 2011, one of the country's most deadly outbreaks of food-borne illness, according to government investigators......The Centers for Disease Control linked cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms to the listeria outbreak that began at the end of August 2011. In October of that year, the Food and Drug Administration found that Jensen Farms' packing and storage facilities likely helped spread the listeria and directly contributed to the outbreak. Cases associated with the strain of listeria traced to Jensen Farms ended in December 2011......The FDA said one piece of equipment, a used potato washing machine bought just before the outbreak, was its possible cause and cited dirty water on the floor of the packing center as well.
Are Monsanto and GMOs involved? No! What are you, fucking kidding?  Of course not.

In fact, every year more Americans are probably killed by contaminated food than died on 9-11!

The Centers For Disease Control 2011 estimates of food borne illnesses:
Total food borne illnesses    47.8 million
Estimated Hospitalizations   127,839
Estimated number of deaths    3,037

Although it's not the most common foodborne pathogen, listeria is among the most deadly.  Listeria has also been linked to contaminated cold cuts (14 to 21 deaths in 1998)  and chicken (7 deaths in 2002).

The worst single incident was the 1985 California listeria outbreak caused by Mexican style soft cheese.  Listeria caused 47 or 52 deaths, including 19 stillbirths and 10 infant deaths.  For all you raw milk fans, this was probably caused by inadequate pasteurization

And speaking of unsterile milk, follow me past the orange gelato.....

Also in 1985 was an outbreak of salmonella that started in an  Illinois dairy that may have caused as many as 200,000 cases of food poisoning in six Midwest states, killing from two to 12 people.  Raw milk anyone?

More recently, raw milk has been the cause of a half dozen outbreaks of Campylobacter jejuni infections in eastern Pennsylvania.  The latest outbreak was caused by contamination at the Shankstead Ecofarm and The Family Cow Dairy.
Notice that in this case it was raw milk being sold to people that want raw milk, not just faulty pasteurization.

At this point you may want to stop and savor the irony that many of the same people who are obsessed with the "dangers" of GMOs also believe that raw milk is a magic elixir of life, even though milk contamination has killed dozens of Americans and sickened hundreds of thousands.

In the 1990s, we saw the emergence of the O157:H7 Escherichia coli, an enterohemorrhagic superbug that can cause hemorrhagic diarrhea and kidney failure.  This has usually been associated with meat, but not always.  Contaminated water at the County Fair in Easton, New York killed two people. This seems to be typical of E. coli contamination incidents that cause one to two fatalities, although saving the lives of dozens of people with organ failure can be a heroic task.   We tend to hear about recalls of meat because meat is labeled and tracked, so it can be recalled.  This meat isn't tossed out - it will be tested and then cooked and put into products like meatballs and dog food. The actual contaminated lots will be sent to rendering plants.

Salmonella is a traditional favorite cause of food poisoning, and something like 5,000 cases can be expected every year from eggs. You may remember recent peanut butter recalls.  Other salmonella outbreaks include contaminated orange juice, bean sprouts, and salsa.

Nor are fruits and veggies safe.  You probably remember the E. coli O157:H7 in unpasteurized apple juice from Odwalla, which killed a child. This juice contamination caused a sensation because it was the first high-profile E. coli O157:H7 incident.  E. Coli continues to contaminate a number of types of vegetables such as lettuce.  It can be hard to determine which salad vegetable is contaminated, especially in a restaurant environment. E. coli contaminated spinach killed 3 in 2006. And in 2011, E. coli on strawberries killed an Oregon woman. And I already mentioned the salmonella contamination in juice and sprouts.

Hepatitis A outbreaks have been caused by contaminated strawberries and green onions. The 2003 United States hepatitis A outbreak in Pennsylvania and West Virginia that  killed four people  was from green onions served at Chi-Chi's restaurants.

I was impressed by the number of deaths and illnesses (possibly hundreds of thousands) associated with raw milk or badly pasteurized milk.  Obsessing about the dangers of GMOs while drinking raw milk is right up there with being an anti-vaxxer as far as I'm concerned.  And fresh vegetables and produce aren't safe either, including food grown by organic farms.  As I always say - everything that fits in your mouth is not food.

I put no stock in the ability of the free market to keep us safe.  Clearly, hundred of lives could be saved by spending more on food safety each year.  Or we could pass  ballot initiatives that would use much that money for  tracking GMOs, but every penny diverted would increase our risk of dying from foodborne illnesses.  I hate to sound like John Stossel (because I loath John Stossel), but we need to make sure that our feel-good safety measures don't actually kill people.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Eat It (14+ / 0-)

    Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

    by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 02:23:56 PM PDT

  • poisoning exist, so giving a fuck (15+ / 0-)

    about GMO crops (whether your issue is gene patenting, monopoly, a lack of regulatory oversight, or concerns about consuming BT Toxin) = "anti-vax".

    Seems legit.

    "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

    by JesseCW on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 05:18:19 PM PDT

    •  Conflating A Dozen Issues To Gain Legitimacy (4+ / 0-)

      For instance, "saving the family farm" has been used by countless groups to advance their own agendas. Heck, even Hitler promised to save the family farm.

      You know what group really attaches themselves to any cause?  The Lyndon LaRouche people.  I have no idea what they believe in, but they are there piggybacking on anything they can. Somehow just about anything becomes part of their agenda.

      Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

      by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 05:32:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  irony: talk about conflating (6+ / 0-)

        Contaminated food and GMO concerns are entirely separate issues.  AFAIK no one concerned about GMOs has suggested taking from already inadequate food safety inspection budgets.

        •  The Next Back-Of-The-Napkin Ballot Initiative (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          really ought to spell that out, assuming someone is willing to spend more than 30 seconds writing it.  Because otherwise the point of the lack of specificity seems to be to create a sort of mass Rorschach test where people are free to conflate it with whatever they want.

          Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

          by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 07:18:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Nobody Except the Owners of Our System (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          which have us on a steadily shrinking pie of cutting taxes and business tax & regulatory breaks.

          We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

          by Gooserock on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 07:25:13 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  This game, where you either claim those (0+ / 0-)

        who call you on your shit are LaRouche freaks, or insinuate that they are LaRouche freaks, is fucking pathetic.

        I mean, the latter form of it is fucking chickenshit as well as well as pathetic, but both varieties are fucking pathetic.

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 12:47:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Or overuse (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      happymisanthropy, Utahrd, JesseCW

      of herbicides and resistant weeds.  I can walk and chew gum at the same time.

      "In short, I was a racketeer for Capitalism" Marine Corp Brigadier General Smedley D. Butler

      by Kevskos on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 06:10:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  NO gmo crops! (0+ / 0-)

      Very important for young people not to eat them.

      IMO, I would only drink organic milk (pasteurized of course, never raw) and eat organic meats and vegetables. Organic milk is practically, just as cheap as non-organic. Worth $1 more a gallon.

      I'm sixty-three. Too late for me and probably doesn't matter at my age. But very important for the young people.

      I have a new diary. The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)


      Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

      by rebel ga on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 07:08:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Organic milk (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        skohayes, the fan man, rebel ga

        is one of the cruellest aspects of farming.  And I say this as an all-natural, pasture raised and fed sheep dairy.

        If an organic dairy cow gets sick, the owner just leaves it with no treatment.  Because if it gets treated it can never ever be used for milking again and must be sold for cheap meat, or to another dairy at cents on the dollar.

        So the ranchers lets the animal to see whether it lives or dies.

        •  sick cows (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rebel ga

          I farmed, my ancestors farmed for generations, and I know dozens of farmers.  I do not know of any farmer who would not take care of a sick animal-whether it is profitable or not.  Please do not overgeneralize.

          •  Or Sell Them (0+ / 0-)

            People who move to the country and buy animals learn that getting sold several sick animals is a rite of passage and it's just taken for granted.  

            There's a sort of mythology that farmers are all gentle and honest but need the wise guidance of urban activists, when many are actually crafty and dishonest.  

            Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

            by bernardpliers on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 07:34:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks Catesby, I didn't know that. (0+ / 0-)

          I drink regular milk 2 per cent. But I've heard of all the hormones in milk and beef, etc.

          Brought To You By That Crazed Sociologist/Media Fanatic rebel ga Be The Change You Want To See In The World! Gandhi

          by rebel ga on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:43:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  It's about as close to anti-vax nonsense as we (0+ / 0-)

      get on the "science vs woo" spectrum when it comes to GMO health claims. In a war, truth is a precious commodity and both sides see this as a war.

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 05:33:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  did you see this in the Federal Register (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Empower Ink, bernardpliers, eyesoars

    Federal Register Volume 78, Number 160 (Monday, August 19, 2013)]

    [Proposed Rules]


    Food and Drug Administration
    21 CFR Part 112
    [Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921]
    RIN 0910-AG35

    Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Rule, Standards for Growing, Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption

    AGENCY: Food and Drug Administration, HHS.

    ACTION: Notice of Intent.


    SUMMARY: Under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA), as implemented by the Council on environmental Quality (CEQ) regulations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announces its intent to prepare
    an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to evaluate the potential environmental effects of the proposed rule, Standards for Growing,

    Harvesting, Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption. By this notice, FDA is announcing the beginning of the scoping process to solicit public comments and identify issues to be analyzed in an EIS.

    Information on the proposed rule may be accessed using the docket number found in brackets in the heading of this document.

    DATES: This notice initiates the public scoping process for the EIS which will close on November 15, 2013. The Agency will consider comments in response to this notice to determine the need for any public scoping meetings prior to the preparation of the Draft EIS. In order to be considered during the preparation of the Draft EIS, all
    comments must be received prior to the close of the public scoping period. All relevant and substantive comments submitted to Docket No.

    FDA-2011-N-0921 in response to the proposed rule will be considered as part of the scoping process. FDA will provide additional opportunities for public participation upon publication of the Draft EIS.

    ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921 and/or Regulatory Information Number (RIN) 0910-AG35, by any of
    the following methods.

    Electronic Submissions

        Submit electronic comments in the following way:

         Federal eRulemaking Portal:

    Follow the instructions for submitting comments.

    Written Submissions

        Submit written submissions in the following ways:

         Mail/Hand delivery/Courier (for paper or CD-ROM
    submissions): Division of Dockets Management (HFA-305), Food and Drug Administration, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

        Instructions: All submissions received must include the Agency name and Docket No. FDA-2011-N-0921 and RIN 0910-AG35 for this rulemaking.

    All comments received may be posted without change to, including any personal information provided.

        Docket: For access to the docket to read background documents or comments received, go to and insert the
    docket number, found in brackets in the heading of this document, into the ``Search'' box and follow the prompts and/or go to the Division of Dockets Management, 5630 Fishers Lane, Rm. 1061, Rockville, MD 20852.

    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Annette McCarthy, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (HFS-205), Food and Drug Administration,
    5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740, 240-402-1200.

    SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: To minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death from consumption of contaminated produce, FDA has published the proposed rule, Standards for Growing, Harvesting,
    Packing, and Holding of Produce for Human Consumption (``the produce safety rule'' or ``the proposed rule'') to establish science-based minimum standards for the safe growing, harvesting, packing, and holding of produce, meaning fruits and vegetables grown for human consumption (78 FR 3504, January 16, 2013). FDA has proposed these standards as part of our implementation of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA). These standards would not apply to produce that is rarely consumed raw, produce for personal or on-farm
    consumption, or produce that is not a raw agricultural commodity. In addition, produce that receives commercial processing that adequately reduces the presence of microorganisms of public health significance would be eligible for exemption from the requirements of this rule.

    The proposed rule would set forth procedures, processes, and practices that minimize the risk of serious adverse health consequences or death, including those reasonably necessary to prevent the introduction of known or reasonably foreseeable biological hazards into or onto produce and to provide reasonable assurances that the produce is not adulterated on account of such hazards. We expect that the proposed rule, if finalized as proposed, would reduce foodborne illness associated with the consumption of contaminated produce.

    For the proposed rule, the Agency relied on a categorical exclusion from the need to prepare an Environmental Assessment or EIS under 21 CFR 25.30(j). Based on currently available information, including comments received, and upon further analysis, FDA has determined that the proposed action may significantly affect the quality of the human environment (21 CFR 25.22(b)) and, therefore, an EIS is necessary for the final rule. For example, switching from surface to ground water was
    originally considered a cost- and time-prohibitive option that was unlikely to occur to any significant extent given that monitoring data available prior to the publication of the proposed rule showed that Escherichia. coli exceedance of the proposed standard occurred during 5
    percent of the monitoring period with 55 percent of the incidents being no more than 2 days, as discussed in the categorical exclusion memo (see Ref. 266 of the proposed rule).

    Public comment, subsequent to the publication of the proposed rule, has indicated that in some regions
    current irrigation practices use water that is unlikely to meet the proposed microbial standards for much, if not all of the growing season.

    Consequently, if such standards are finalized, ground water is likely to be explored as a more viable alternative water source for irrigation in these regions than previous information had indicated.

    Given recently highlighted concerns of ground water depletion (Ref. 1), FDA has determined that the use of ground water for irrigation, in response to a microbial standard, may significantly affect the quality of the human environment. Similarly, comments received caused FDA to
    reevaluate the proposed requirements for biological soil amendments of animal origin, which propose an increasingly stringent set of application restrictions based on the likelihood of the soil amendment harboring pathogens.

    These proposed requirements, if finalized, are
    expected to result in changes in current use of treated and untreated biological soil amendments of animal origin or potentially greater use of synthetic fertilizers. Changes in the type or handling of soil amendments may significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

        The purpose of the public scoping process for the EIS is to determine relevant issues that will influence the scope of the environmental analysis, including potential alternatives, and the extent to which those issues and impacts will be analyzed in the EIS.

    The EIS will be prepared in accordance with section 102(2)(C) of NEPA (Pub. L. 91-190), FDA's NEPA implementing regulations (21 CFR Part 25),
    and the CEQ regulations for implementing NEPA (40 CFR Parts 1500-1508).

    Federal, State, and local Agencies, along with tribes and other stakeholders that may be interested in or affected by the produce safety rule are invited to participate in the scoping process. Some Federal Agencies may request or be requested by the FDA to participate in the development of the environmental analysis as a cooperating agency. FDA has previously sought comment on potential environmental effects as part of the public comment period for the proposed rule, including specific questions regarding agricultural water, biological soil amendments of animal origin, and wildlife (78 FR 3504 at 3616,
    3619-3620). FDA believes that these questions are still relevant to the environmental analysis and will consider comments received. FDA encourages additional comments, as part of this scoping process, on
    what specific issues, alternatives, mitigation measures, or other information FDA should include for further analysis in the EIS for the produce safety rule.


        The following reference has been placed on display in the Division of Dockets Management (see ADDRESSES) and may be seen by interested persons between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. (FDA has verified the Web site address, but FDA is not responsible for any
    subsequent changes to the Web site after this document publishes in the Federal Register.)

        1. U.S. Geological Survey. 2013. Groundwater Depletion in the United States (1900-2008). Scientific Investigation Report 2013-
    5079. Available at: Accessed July 30, 2013.

        Dated: August 13, 2013.

    Leslie Kux,

    Assistant Commissioner for Policy.

    [FR Doc. 2013-20087 Filed 8-16-13; 8:45 am]

    BILLING CODE 4160-01-P

  •  Listeria is no joke (6+ / 0-)

    One of my former bosses grew up on a farm in Wisconsin.  He used to drink raw milk straight from the teat -- that is, until he came down with a mild case of listeria.  He was lucky, he was only bedridden for a week.

    People who consume raw milk must make sure that the cows it comes from are extremely clean.  The proximity of udder to rectal and urinary openings makes this of paramount importance.

    Visit for Minnesota news as it happens.

    by Phoenix Woman on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 07:18:33 PM PDT

  •  The farm has to be set up for it (0+ / 0-)

    Factory farming is not suitable for raw milk production; a consequence is that universal pasteurization has made it easier for factory farms to get away with operating under cruel and filthy conditions.

    Outlawing raw milk per se, however, is overreach.  An old-fashioned farm that doesn't overcrowd its cows and keeps them clean can probably produce safe enough raw milk.  It probably needs a form of inspection that the agribusiness protection agency, er, USDA can't deal with, but that's solvable.

    •  Sorry (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mysteron, murrayewv, skohayes, Kimbeaux

      even on the cleanest small dairy farm  such as I have, bacteria can still thrive.  You cannot completely sanitize the rear end of any animal.  You know what?  They pee and poo while you are milking them.  

      My inspectors are really good, and taught me well of the dangers and potential sources.  They do not deserve the slur you put on them.  They have families that drink milk too, and trust me, with the hoops they made me jump through, they take their business seriously.

      They shut down a major cow dairy nearby without a second thought due to salmonella.  It turns out it was not in the milk, or the containers, but on the trays that carried the containers, spreading it to the containers, making people who drank directly out of the container sick.

      Raw milk production is inherently dangerous.  I am absolutely fastidious about hygiene, and yet I would never dream of selling raw milk to a customer.  Because if that person gets sick - and that's only a matter of time - not only is that a circumstance I do not want to be responsible for - I do not want to lose everything I own.

      There are too many stories of these 'old-fashioned' dairies making people sick.

      The old cow dairy I bought had dead cows buried all over the place, leaching into the water.  The local raw milk producers who came to my place for a tour told me how they would leave their equipment 8 hours before washing it, or would not use gloves during milking because if felt more 'natural'.

      •  Yet, we still sell raw meat. We don't require (0+ / 0-)

        it be sold cooked.

        It sickens hundreds of thousands, and kills a couple thousand every year, due to poor handling.

        I wouldn't drink raw milk, but I do consume aged cheeses made from it.  Calculated risks.

        And some people eat steak tartar.  

        "But the traitors will pretend / that it's gettin' near the end / when it's beginning" P. Ochs

        by JesseCW on Sun Sep 29, 2013 at 11:57:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not all bacteria are bad (0+ / 0-)

        Of course there are bacteria everywhere; the human body contains 3-5 pounds of them.  Cows must be really full of them, given their digestive system.

        Humans can tolerate a certain amount of even "harmful" bacteria if they have a good immune system.  If they have a compromised one, they should certainly stay away from raw milk, raw meat, etc.!  We're talking common sense, which I realize is in short supply on both sides, public and government.  Provide the public with honest information about the risks and let them make choices.  Raw milk isn't as inherently dangerous as, say, smoking.  It just doesn't have the same corporate clout behind it.

  •  They're two unrelated issues. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I don't see any rationale for linking them, except as a spurious way to get your way about one of them.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 04:03:53 AM PDT

    •  Thank You For Making My Point (0+ / 0-)

      I haven't made a list of all the unrelated issues that get lumped into anti-GMO activism but let's see:

      1) Hybrid seeds which have nothing to with GMOs.  We could make a pure breeding GMOs if you wanted it.
      2) Plant patents (been around since 1937)
      3) Saving the family farm (technology is not evaluated as tools of social engineering)

      Men are so necessarily mad, that not to be mad would amount to another form of madness. -Pascal

      by bernardpliers on Mon Sep 30, 2013 at 07:51:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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