All around the Denver area today, students will be enjoying lunches made exclusively with Colorado products as part of Colorado Proud School Meal Day, which educates students about locally sourced food. One thing that won't (we hope) be on the menu? Listeria.
In light of a recent Listeria outbreak, melon from farms in Rocky Ford have been pulled from bagged lunches sent out to students.
Cantaloupe grown in Rocky Ford was going to be served at some schools until Listeria cases started popping up in five states. Listeria, a bacterial infection that is most harmful to the elderly, pregnant and those with compromised immune systems, has has been linked to four deaths and sixteen infections. The Rocky Ford melons, grown in southeast Colorado, are believed to be the source of the outbreak.
Yesterday, Jeffco Public Schools sent out a press release touting its upcoming event for Colorado Proud School Meal Day; the last paragraph noted that Rocky Ford cantaloupe was originally a featured item, but had been pulled as a safety precaution.
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The Food and Drug Administration has not issued a recall for the fruit, but the Centers for Disease Control released a warning about the outbreak, which has affected Colorado, Texas, Indiana, Nebraska and Oklahoma. Colorado's Safeway, Whole Foods and King Soopers stores are reportedly pulling Rocky Ford cantaloupes from their shelves.
Symptoms of Listeria include headaches, diarrhea, muscle aches, fever and confusion. Washing the outside of cantaloupe helps prevent the spread of Listeria and other bacteria.
Want to know more? Westword's Kenny Be has this safety guide.