No contaminated cantaloupe in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

No contaminated cantaloupe in Iowa

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

A listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe has now claimed the life of 13 people nation wide and sickened people across 18 states. None of the deaths are in Iowa, but the outbreak has raised concerns about the safety of the fruit.

According to the Centers for Disease Control the bacteria kills approximately 30% of its victims and sends 90% of the elderly people who get it to the hospital.

Listeria is usually found in meats and soft cheeses, but food safety experts are worried now the bacteria is moving to produce.

"As far as we know none of the cantaloupe grown in that location in Colorado have been shipped to Iowa," said Kaitlin Emrich of the Black County Health Department.

Emrich says Iowans are safe from this outbreak, but historically, listeria has been found in other places.

"It's found in uncooked vegetables some contaminated from some place from where they were grown in the soil to when they are on your table. It's also found in on uncooked deli meats and hot dogs and soft cheeses and also raw and contaminated milk," said Emrich.

Tammie Palmer's husband Chuck of Colorado Springs, Colorado became ill from eating contaminated cantaloupe. The 71-year-old has been in the hospital since August 31st.

"I went over and started patting his face and I'm like Chuck what's wrong? What's wrong, you have to talk to me, what's wrong? Talk to me now or I'm calling the ambulance and he couldn't talk so I called 911," said Palmer.

While the cantaloupe with listeria are not in Iowa it's always a good idea to wash all your fruit before you eat it especially this time of year when everything is becoming ripe.

"Wash your utensils that you're going to be cutting them with or pealing them with and always keep those clean and separated from other foods that might contaminate them such as raw meats or something like that," said Emrich.

Federal and state officials in Colorado still don't know how the cantaloupe became contaminated. They are currently looking at possible animals in the fields, water quality, growing, harvest and processing practices and how the cantaloupe were stored.

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