Listeria Outbreak from Tainted Cantaloupe Deadliest in Over a Decade

Health officials today are estimating as many as 16 people have died from a possible listeria illness traced to Colorado cantaloupes.  The outbreak is the deadliest food outbreak in over a decade. Tuesday, the Center for Disease Prevention (CDC) said 72 illnesses are linked to the tainted fruit, including 13 deaths. Newly confirmed deaths in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Texas are linked to the outbreak surpassing an outbreak of salmonella in peanuts almost three years ago in which 9 people died. New Mexico officials confirmed Tuesday they were investigating a fifth death, while Kansas and Wyoming authorities were also investigating possible additional deaths linked to the outbreak. Listeria is a more deadly pathogen compared to the more well-known salmonella and E. Coli.  In 1998, 21 people died in a listeria outbreak traced back to contaminated hot dogs and possibly deli meats produced by Bil Mar Foods, a subsidiary of Sara Lee Corp.  Another large listeria outbreak occurred in 1985 causing 52 deaths and was linked to Mexican-style soft cheese. Usually only affecting the elderly, pregnant women and others with compromised immune systems, listeria is very dangerous and it’s estimated that one in five who contract the disease can die. The median age of those sickened is 78 years old. Remarkably, while the deadliest outbreak from listeria tainted melons is going on, the FDA lifted import restrictions on melons from a Guatemala farm that had previously been linked to a multistate salmonella outbreak.  The March outbreak lead Del Monte Fresh Produce to recall melons is not related to the Colorado cantaloupe outbreak, but it certainly does highlight the on going need for inspections for dangerous listeria and salmonella contaminated food in our food supply.

Dear Friends and Clients,

In furtherance of our firm’s culture of commitment to always act with compassion, concern and commitment to our clients, community and colleagues, we have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligations while prioritizing health, wellness and safety of all we can.

As you know, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced changes to many lives and businesses in our communities, and around the world. We, much like our neighbors and friends, have been taking precautions to ensure that we are still fulfilling our ethical and moral obligation to our clients, while also prioritizing the health, wellness and safety of our employees.

Until further notice, our offices will be closed to the public to encourage social distancing and to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our team is still hard at work, many from home, and you may still call, email, live chat or video conference us if you or a loved one is seeking legal assistance. As the first law firm to offer our clients secure online access to their case file more than a decade ago, we have always been believers in using technology to make life easier and information more accessible. In these present times it has been a smooth transition for us to continue to offer our clients the same seamless and thorough service that you deserve and are accustomed to.

This pandemic is unlike anything any of us have faced in our lifetimes, and while we can continue to emotionally support one another through it all, staying home and keeping your distance is vital to the health and wellness of our communities. It does not feel good to break routines, cancel events and retreat from our normal, day-to-day socializing, but let us remember that, in times of strife, prior generations were asked to go to war and we are simply being asked to stay home. Your isolation equals more lives saved, and more time for medical providers to prepare for the treatment of patients battling COVID-19.

When the dust settles, we will join together with a greater appreciation for our lives, local businesses, loved ones and health. Until then, we will continue to offer guidance from a safe distance.

Very truly yours,

Andrew G. Finkelstein and the staff of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP