Since “organicfarmer” posted this comment on Food Safety News last week, I have not been able to shake it from my head:
“It’s really sad that farms and farmers are getting the brunt of this. I am sad these people died, but median age of 78…. give me a break. I my opinion there is no possible way to make all food safe for all people. I grow food, take extreme precautions to keep the farm as clean from pathogens as possible, but these bacteria are everywhere in the soil. Advances in science are a double edged sword. People have succumbed from so-called food poisons since the beginning of time. It’s probably good common sense to not eat raw foods if you’re old or have a compromised immune system. Now pathogenic bacteria have been found inside the cells of lettuce. No amount of washing will ‘clean’ it.”
Perhaps because I spent most of the last week talking to families whose parents or spouses are fighting for their lives or have died too soon – because they ate a damn cantaloupe — or perhaps because I am about to drive out to see by 80-plus-year-old parents, I find “organicfamer”‘s comments insensitive at best.
Certainly his attitude toward the elderly makes me wonder who purchases his farm products? Frankly, I would take a pass.
Of course, his response to me calling him out on his “shit happens” approach to life is to trot out how bad lawyers are and to say about me: “I resent him and all he stands for.”
Dear Mr. Unnamed “organicfarmer,” this is what I stand for: people should not be sickened and/or die from eating cantaloupe. Here is just a sample of people injured who have the courage to stick up for themselves and other consumers by filing lawsuits, and using their names openly:
William T. Beach (pictured with his family below) consumed cantaloupe in early August. Mr. Beach subsequently fell ill and on approximately Aug. 28, was taken to the hospital by ambulance after his wife, Monette, found him collapsed on the living room floor, unable to speak or breathe regularly.
Mr. Beach was discharged from the hospital two days later, but his condition worsened and he was again rushed to the hospital, where he died after a failed intubation procedure. The Oklahoma State Department of Health later contacted one of Mr. Beach’s six daughters to inform them that Mr. Beach had tested positive for Listeria and died from his infection.
Clarence Wells, consumed cantaloupe on multiple occasions before becoming ill with symptoms of Listeria infection on Aug. 23, 2011. By Aug. 25, Mr. Wells had gained 9 pounds from fluid retention and had begun having difficulty breathing. He was taken to the emergency room, and was admitted to John’s Hopkins Medical Center later that day. On the morning of Aug. 31, Mr. Wells’ condition deteriorated and his family was called to the hospital, where they found him unconscious. They never spoke to him, or saw him awake, again. Mr. Wells, pictured with his family, died the evening of Aug. 31, 2011.
Juanita Gomez consumed cantaloupe purchased from a local grocery store in early August. By Aug. 20, Mrs. Gomez became ill and developed a fever. When her symptoms progressed, she was taken to the hospital where her temperature measured 105.6 degrees F, her eyes became glassy, and she was unable to respond to simple questions. Tests later confirmed she had been infected with the same strain of Listeria linked to the ongoing outbreak that has been traced to defendant Jensen Farms’ Rocky Ford cantaloupe. Mrs. Gomez was released from the hospital on Aug. 24 and continues to recover at her home.
Charles Palmer consumed the Listeria-contaminated cantaloupe in mid-August. He had purchased one whole cantaloupe at the Wal-Mart store located on Razorback Road in Colorado Springs several days before. He fell ill with symptoms of listeriosis, the illness caused by Listeria infection, including headache and fatigue, on Aug. 30. The next morning, Mr. Palmer’s wife found him unresponsive and immediately rushed her husband to the hospital, where he has remained ever since. He has tested positive for Listeria monocytogenes, the strain involved in the cantaloupe outbreak.
Herbert Stevens and his wife purchased Jensen Farms-grown Rocky Ford cantaloupe from a Littleton grocery store in early August. On Aug. 24, 84-year-old Mr. Stevens fell ill with symptoms of listeriosis and became incapacitated. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital, where he tested positive for the same strain of Listeria that is involved in the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak. Mr. Stevens remained hospitalized until several days ago, when he was transferred to a long-term care facility. It is not clear if he will be able to return home.
And, “organicfarmer,” I have spoken to dozens of others — the family of an 80-year-old who needlessly died in Nebraska, the family of a 56-year-old who died in Kansas, others who became ill and are struggling to recover, or the ones still in ICU on life support who will soon raise the CDC death toll.
Mr. “organicfarmer,” there are a lot of people who hate me — mostly those who work for corporations who poison people — and, honestly, I really do not give a damn. Mr. “organicfamer,” you may hate me along with the Cargills, Doles, et al of the world – you, my friend are in fine company.
Here is AP’s “For Listeria victims, sudden turns for the worse” that just crossed the wire.