Kitchen Think: Preventing Listeria Hysteria


The Listeria Hysteria raises an issue that Mama harps on all the time: KNOW WHERE YOUR FOOD COMES FROM!

No, I don’t mean the grocery store, silly… I mean where it was grown.

Contaminated cantaloupe is responsible for the nation’s deadliest food poisoning outbreak in more than a decade… yet I served cantaloupe to my family last night. Sistie accused me of trying to kill her until I coolly reminded her that if I wanted to spend the rest of my life in the Big House, I’ve got a great botulism recipe that’ll do the trick a lot quicker.

But I digress.

I’ve known about this outbreak since it began in early September. I get alerts from the Centers for Disease Control…and so can you. The Food and Drug Administration are still investigating the source of the Listeria contamination, but traces of the bacteria have been found in whole cantaloupe grown at Jensen Farms’ Granada, Colorado production fields.

The cantaloupe I served my family came from California. I checked the label before it went in my grocery basket. Easy.

I’m not trying to be Miss Smarty Pants about all of this. I’m just trying to urge you to get into the habit of checking where your fruit and produce originates (and, while you’re at it, really, check everything else).

If you are at a farmer’s market, you pretty much know that everything came from within driving distance. But the supermarket or big box stores? It could have been grown in Chile, processed in Florida and packaged in Illinois. Or (really scary) grown in China, relabeled and packaged in Oregon. It happens.

The tainted cantaloupes are probably all off the shelves by this time, but the reported illnesses will likely continue because listeria has a long incubation life. How sad!

Wouldn’t it be great if what we purchased had the place of origin on the grocery store receipt so, if an outbreak and recall occurred, we could easily go back and check and protect our families? (Come to think of it, that’s not a bad idea.)

But until that happens, maybe we should all do our part and check to see where our fruits and vegetables originate. That way, when we hear that people are getting ill because of a food product, we can rest easy… or immediately clean the refrigerator!


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posted under The Kitchen Think

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I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: