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Contaminated Cantaloupes! Listeria on the Loose.

Contaminated Cantaloupes! Listeria on the Loose.

Listeriosis or Listeria monocytogenes food poisoning is an infection which could be fairly mild or debilitating depending on the person infected. Young children, pregnant women, the elderly, or anyone with a compromised immune system are the most susceptible to Listeriosis. When a person is infected, symptoms of a Listeria infection can include sudden onset fever, chills, severe headache, vomiting, and other influenza-type symptoms. While this sounds awful, only a small percentage of those who ingest Listeria  develop symptoms.

However, Listeria monocytogenes is not to be taken lightly and has time and time again shown its ability to take the life of an innocent consumer.

In 2016, three major outbreaks in frozen vegetables, raw milk, and packaged salads hospitalized thirty people and unfortunately took the lives of five of those hospitalized. While that number may seem small compared to other foodborne pathogen outbreaks, the sixteen percent mortality rate of victims reinforces the severity of the infection. The mortality rate for Listeriosis in 2015 was similar at fifteen percent according to the Centers for Disease Control.

In fact, Listeria monocytogenes is credited with the worst foodborne pathogen outbreak in the history of the United States, at least since the CDC began recording data in 1970. In 2011, a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes was linked to whole cantaloupes from Colorado. Dirty equipment at the farm, as well as Listeria contaminated water found on the conveyor belts at the processing plant were attributed to be the sources of the infected melons. The FDA noted during their investigation that an outside contractor had cleared the facility during a food safety audit only six days before the outbreak. All it takes is one moment and a perfectly previously safe facility can produce in a tainted product.

The product in question had a devastating effect. One hundred and forty-three people were hospitalized with symptoms indicating a Listeria monocytogenes infection. Thirty-three of those hospitalized died from Listeriosis while hospitalized, and one pregnant woman infected miscarried.

While a mandatory recall was imposed by the FDA, the farm and processing plant were temporarily shut down. Furthermore, a lawsuit was filed against the company by the first victim who had been hospitalized for several weeks due to the contaminated cantaloupe.

The results of the contamination are clear. The company was held responsible for a hundred and forty-three hospitalizations and thirty-three deaths. They lost millions in revenue while their doors were closed during the recall. They lost money due to a costly lawsuit. Finally, they lost public trust, and the damage to their reputation was insurmountable.

All of this is avoidable!

Listeria monocytogenes testing must be done often and quickly before any contaminated products can make it into the hands of consumers. Hardy Diagnostics now offers the Xpress Rapid Pathogen Detection System precisely for these situations. The Xpress is an AOAC approved testing method for Listeria monocytogenes in environmental samples. It is faster and cheaper per test than PCR-based systems, meaning that you get faster results. Faster results equals faster delivery of goods to the grocer. Hardy Diagnostics is proud to exclusively offer this product in the United States.

Hardy Diagnostics is dedicated to finding new and innovative ways to diagnose and prevent diseases so that outbreaks, like the one that happened in 2011, become a thing of the past.

The Xpress Rapid Pathogen Detection System is one of those innovations!

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