Image: JoNel Aleccia
By JoNel Aleccia Health writer
msnbc.com
updated 9/23/2011 11:15:28 PM ET 2011-09-24T03:15:28

A Kansas food processor is recalling nearly 600 pounds of fresh-cut cantaloupe because of potential contamination with listeria linked to a deadly outbreak of food poisoning, federal Food and Drug Administration officials announced Friday.

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Carol's Cuts LLC of Kansas City is recalling 594 pounds of cantaloupe packed in 5-pound trays as chunks and as an ingredient in 8-ounce mixed fruit medley containers. The move expands a previous voluntary recall of whole Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown and shipped by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo.

Cantaloupe tainted with listeria, a foodborne illness that can cause stillbirths, illness and death, has been blamed for at least 55 illnesses and eight deaths in 14 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

More illnesses are expected in the outbreak as suspected cases are confirmed, food safety experts said.

The Carol's Cuts products were shipped to customers on Aug. 26 and Sept. 12 and distributed to institutional food customers, including restaurants in Overland Park, Kansas, Kansas City and Maryland Heights, Mo., and Omaha, Neb. Institutional customers may have used the cantaloupe on salad bars and as fruit menu items. Some institutional customers may have placed the 8-ounce servings in retail venues. Carol’s Cuts has notified all institutional customers of the recall and asked that the contaminated cantaloupe be returned or destroyed.

The Food and Drug Administration confirmed that listeria was found in samples taken from a Denver-area store and the Jensen Farms packing facility. The melons were shipped to at least 25 different states across the U.S. between July 29 and Sept. 10, the agency reported Friday.

Jensen Farms earlier issued a voluntary nationwide recall of its cantaloupes after news of the multi-state outbreak. Jenson Farms has ceased production and distribution of the product while FDA and the company continue their investigations as to what caused the problem.

Consumers who may have the recalled Carol’s Cuts product in their possession should return it to the place of purchase for a full refund or destroy it.

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