What’s good news for bacteria of the genus Listeria is extremely bad news for everyone else. This pathogen isn’t as well known as Salmonella or E. coli, but when it gets into our food supply it is dangerous and deadly. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening lately. Last week's batch of Listeria contaminated cantaloupes from Colorado’s Rocky Ford region claimed four lives, but this week experts are estimating that the death toll could rise. Meanwhile, cheese manufacturer Del Bueno in Washington state has just issued a recall on its Casero Queso Fresco cheese due to Listeria contamination.
The Associated Press reports that, in addition to the four deaths already reported linked to the Listeria contaminated cantaloupes, the New Mexico Department of Health is in the process of confirming two additional deaths. By now it’s also confirmed that the cantaloupes have traveled to and sickened people in 10 different states, spanning the country from California to West Virginia. Colorado itself contains the most illnesses, at a count of 12, followed by neighboring Oklahoma and New Mexico.
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But that’s not all for Listeria this week. Yesterday Grandview, Washington-based cheese manufacturer Del Bueno announced a recall on all 16 oz. size packages of its Queso Fresco Casero Mexican-style fresh cheese due to possible Listeria contamination. “This recall is the result of a routine sampling program by Washington State Department of Agriculture which revealed that the cheese is contaminated with Listeria,” reads the press release from the FDA. The cheese was allegedly distributed to retail markets throughout Washington, as well as the Pasco, WA flea market. Del Bueno urges consumers to return any Queso Fresco Casero cheese with a date stamp of “Sep 14 2011” to the original place of purchase for a full refund.