WASHINGTON - Twenty-five deaths in 12 states are now linked to listeria in cantaloupe, the deadliest known outbreak of foodborne illness in the U.S. in more than 25 years.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that 123 people have been sickened, including those who died.
The tainted Colorado cantaloupes should be off store shelves by now. But the number of illnesses may continue to grow, as the symptoms of listeria can take up to two months to appear.
The CDC on Tuesday confirmed a sixth death in Colorado and a second in New York. Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Wyoming have also reported deaths.
Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo., recalled the cantaloupes last month.
The Food and Drug Administration says the deadly listeria outbreak in cantaloupe was probably caused by pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean packing equipment at a Colorado farm.
The agency said Wednesday that contamination at the packing facility at Jensen Farms is likely to blame for the outbreak that killed 25 people in a dozen states. Investigators found positive listeria samples on equipment and fruit there.
The FDA said Jensen Farms had recently purchased used equipment
that was corroded and hard to clean. The agency said the way the cantaloupes were cooled after coming off the fields may have also contributed to listeria growth.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the outbreak sickened 123 people.