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Cantaloupe Recall Due To Listeria Expands To Pre-Cut Fruit Salads

The FDA just announced another recall in connection to the listeria outbreak in cantaloupes that has been blamed for at least 18 deaths and 100 illnesses since August.

This time the potential suspect is a growing segment of the grocery market — those pre-cut chunks of cantaloupe that get mixed in with various other fruits for ready made salads.

Fruit Fresh Up, Inc. of Depew, New York is recalling approximately 4,800 individual packages of Fresh Cut Cantaloupe and Cut Mixed Fruit Containing Cantaloupe distributed in and around Buffalo because it's potentially contaminated with listeria, the release says.

The fruit subject to the recall was sold between August 31 and September 11 at Wegman's and other stores. It includes: Cantaloupe Chunks, Cantaloupe Slices, Gourmet Fruit Salad, Small Fruit Salad, Small and Large Fruit Salad with Pineapple, Fruit Salad with Kiwi, and Fruit Trays, the release says. No illnesses have been reported to date in connection with the cantaloupe processed by Fruit Fresh Up, Inc.

The origin of the fruit is the same as the outbreak first reported last month and linked to Jensen Farms and Rocky Ford Cantaloupes in Colorado. Deaths and illness are expected to grow as listeria can take up to a month to cause symptoms of diarrhea and worse.

One of the challenges for consumers in the current outbreak is knowing which products might be affected. A lot of the cantaloupe we buy at the store nowadays is pre-cut by the store or some other third-party and doesn't carry the original label.

The fresh-cut products market was worth about $4 billion in 2003, according to an analysis by Purdue University, the most recent data available. And fresh-cut fruits made up $300 million of it back then. It grew 8 percent over the previous year, and experts predict it will continue to climb, given the public's interest in eating healthy while pressed for time.

Because the production chain for the cantaloupe is complex, FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest consumers contact the stores directly to find out the source of the cantaloupe they're buying.

The CDC says that the Jensen Farms-related cantaloupe outbreak has extended to 20 states so far, starting on or after July 31. State and local health departments all over the country are investigating other listeriosis illnesses to determine if they are part of this outbreak.

Wyoming is already reporting another death and Iowa is attributing a miscarriage to the outbreak, according to Food Poison Journal. The site, run by food safety plaintiff's attorney Bill Marler, also features a handy video explaining what listeria is and why it's such a problem.

Check here for some more tips to help prevent illness.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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