Cantaloupes and Listeria: On the Peel
While most of the news relating to the listeria (listeriosis) outbreak have insinuated that the cantaloupe contents contain listeria, this is not the case. The bacteria that causes listeria, Listeria monocytogenes, has been found on the outside peels of the Rocky Ford brand of cantaloupes.
The vector – or pathway – for infection projected by the Centers of Disease is via cutting the unwashed or poorly washed melon. The theory is that the knife brings the bacteria into the inside of the melon, where it is eaten.
While washing the outside rind has been advised in all cases, it has been suggested that the cantaloupe rind be washed very thoroughly.
The outbreak has infected people in 20 states, according to the CDC, including Alabama (1), Arkansas (1 case) California (1 case), Colorado (30 cases), Idaho (1 case), Illinois (1 case), Indiana (2 cases), Kansas (7 cases), Maryland (1 case), Missouri (3 cases), Montana (1 case), Nebraska (6 cases), New Mexico (13 cases), North Dakota (1 case), Oklahoma (11 cases), Texas (14 cases), Virginia (1 case), West Virginia (1 case), Wisconsin (2 cases), and Wyoming (2 cases). These of course, are only the reported cases.
This outbreak of listeria has claimed the lives of 18 people according to the CDC, with 100 infections.
However, thousands of people have likely consumed the pathogen. Why only 100 infections reported, and why so few deaths from this deadly bacteria species?
The CDC implied who the infection affects in its October 4 statement: “CDC recommends that consumers not eat Rocky Ford-brand cantaloupe from Jensen Farms. This is especially important for older adults, persons with weakened immune systems, and pregnant women.”
In other words, some people are more susceptible because that have weaker immune systems.
Stronger immune systems, primarily means stronger probiotic colonies. Research indicates that those with poor or weakened probiotic colonies will also have weakened immune systems. Our probiotics make up at least 70% of our digestive immunity.
CDC, October 4, 2011 Report: Multistate Outbreak of Listeriosis Linked to Whole Cantaloupes from Jensen Farms, Colorado