DENVER (CBS4)- Some schools in Colorado have pulled cantaloupe from the menu after a health scare over listeria. The exact source of the contaminated cantaloupe hasn’t been determined, but the melon is from Rocky Ford.
The listeria bacteria outbreak is blamed for four deaths in the state and New Mexico. Twenty-seven cases of a strain of Listeria were reported from six states, including 13 from Colorado, nine in New Mexico, and five cases combined in Texas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Indiana. Suspected cases were being investigated in other states.
Health experts said it’s a good idea to wash the outside of cantaloupe with soap and water and clean up the area after preparing the melon to keep contamination to a minimum.
The listeria outbreak is a concern for those who fall into high risk groups, which include people over the age of 60, pregnant women and people with weak immune systems. For everyone else, the proper washing of the melon makes it safer to eat.
“Wash the outside of the fruit and they clean up the area around after they cut the fruit and process the fruit,” said Colorado Dept. of Public Health spokesman Chris Urbina.
Local schools have taken their own precautions.
“Our superiors emailed us when the listeria scare came out and there are literally people getting sick. We don’t want to take any chances with our students in the district, so we removed them from the menu,” said Bell Middle School spokeswoman Annette Hansen.
Jensen Farms in Holly announced on Wednesday that it’s recalling cantaloupe shipped to 17 states.