Fourteen people in eight states have died from food poisoning caused by the listeria bacteria in what public health officials are calling the deadliest food-poisoning outbreak in ten years. The outbreak, which has sickened as many as 72 people, has been linked to contaminated cantaloupe that originated in Colorado.
The death toll could continue to rise as the incubation period for listeria is quite long â€” up to 70 days in some cases.
With the source of the illness being traced back to contaminated cantaloupe, this is another instance of food poisoning caused by a product that is not typically cooked. Earlier this summer there were two outbreaks of E. coli poisoning â€” one linked to tainted strawberries and another caused by contaminated sprouts. This makes combating the bacteria particularly difficult since cooking is the most reliable way of killing food-borne pathogens.
The best thing you can do with something like cantaloupe is to rinse it under running water, give it a good scrub and then dry it thoroughly with a clean paper towel before cutting it open.