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Publisher’s Platform: Death by Cantaloupe

Listeria Death Collage.jpg

Each of the above died because they ate a Listeria-tainted cantaloupe in the United States of America in 2011.  And these are only my clients, not all of the 36 who died.

To the growers, shippers, brokers, auditors and retailers who supplied those cantaloupes in the summer of 2011, shame on you.  You will have your day of reckoning in a court of law.

To the politicians and public officials, it is time to do your jobs.

To all of you, print this picture and vow that this will never happen again.

Here is the six-part “The Deadly 2011 Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak – My View.”

© Food Safety News
  • George Wilson, MBA, MT(ASCP)

    Bill,
    Thank you for bringing to the forefront, the “people” who are effected by foodborne illness. Yes, it is time for farmers, politicians, state and local government to do their jobs.
    Education is also important where physicians need to guide their patients who are at risk to foodborne illness. The elderly, infants, and those immuno-compromised for various reasons.

  • John

    Bill, the brokers/distributors might have bought them from the grower. The retailer bought them from the broker/distributor. The consumer bought them from the retailer.
    By your logic, shouldn’t you also say “shame on you” to the consumers? How can you justify blaming the retailers/distributors for not seeing an invisible bacteria? I say shame on YOU, Bill, for not finding these consumers BEFORE they got sick and stopping them from eating the invisible bacteria that nobody knew about it. —
    My last comment makes just as much sense as what you are doing: blaming the people who could not possibly have forseen what was about to happen… Of course, all that really matters is money, right? It doesn’t matter who you blame, as long as they pay you, right? Shame on YOU, Bill.

  • John, your last comment on another post, if I recall correctly, was to blame all produce outbreaks on those damn Mexicans even though the vast majority of outbreaks are home grown in the U.S.
    Now, it is blame the consumer. Really, you want to put the burden on the people that died? I can see the defense now – “suicide by cantaloupe.”
    Of course, when you run out of other stupid things to say, blaming the lawyer is always something to fall back on.
    John, I am proud to represent the people I do and proud to do more for food safety in a day than you will ever do in your entire life. I sleep well.

  • Carole

    Only 1 grower was determined to be the cause of the 2011 outbreak. I fail to see how blaming and shaming all cantaloupe growers helps the families of your clients feel that justice has somehow been served. (http://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/cantaloupes-jensen-farms/120811/timeline.html)
    In fact, many cantaloupe growers suffered devastating losses that will continue for many years. These growers have done their due diligence to provide safe product and you simply sweep all of them them into the same pile. They have families, too, their livelihood is threatened if not ruined, they do the right thing, and they haven’t killed anyone. Blaming them is hardly fair. (http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/01/12/2681351/valley-california-cantaloupe-growers.html, http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/05/business/la-fi-cantaloupe-crop-20120106)
    Of course consumers should not be blamed. However, simply refrigerating and properly washing cantaloupes as well as other produce can avert foodborne illness. Knowing whether you are in a risk group for foodborne illness should affect your food choices. Instead of blaming government and waiting for it to take action, how about providing consumers with information to protect themselves. Bacteria are everywhere and if we eradicate all of them, we simply create another more insidious problem (overuse of antibiotics and chemically laden foods). (http://www.cmrb.org/tips/#prepare, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/09/29/listeria-in-cantaloupes_n_987037.html)
    Yes, of course I’m glad you represent the people you do. Somebody has to and you do a great job of it. But sometimes your zeal is misplaced. Blaming and shaming growers who had nothing to do with it really doesn’t help anyone. Quite frankly, it demeans the work that you do.