Health officials have issued a warning for cantaloupes from a revered melon-producing area of the US state of Colorado amid a bacteria outbreak blamed for four deaths in the state and New Mexico, troubling farmers who depend on sales of the fruit.
The warning from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came after 16 cases of a strain of Listeria were reported in five states, including 11 from Colorado, two from Texas, and one each from Indiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
The agency said it was the first Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe in the United States. The US Food & Drug Administration said it had not recalled the melons while it worked to locate the source.
Rocky Ford cantaloupes, named for a region along the old Santa Fe Trail about 130 miles (200 kilometers) southeast of Denver, are prized for their above-average sugar content. W.C. Fields reportedly said bald guys have “a head shaped like a Rocky Ford cantaloupe,” and Lucile Ball had the melons delivered to her dressing room.
“This is really silly. You can get Listeria any place. I eat those melons every day,” said Kent Lusk, a fifth-generation cantaloupe farmer from Rocky Ford.