Bloomberg News

Cantaloupe Outbreak Becomes Focus of U.S. House Committee

October 21, 2011

(Updates with comments from letter in fourth paragraph)

Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- Republicans and Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee requested a briefing from officials at the Colorado cantaloupe farm linked to the outbreak of listeria that killed 25 people.

The lawmakers also requested Jensen Farms of Grenada, Colorado, preserve documents and communications connected to the U.S. investigation of the outbreak.

The disease sickened 123 people in 26 states and is the deadliest U.S. food outbreak in more than a quarter-century. The committee request was signed by Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, and the panel’s senior Democrat Henry Waxman of California.

“The committee has a long bipartisan history of conducting food safety oversight and is very concerned about these recent developments,” according to the letter requesting the staff briefing with Jensen Farms. Lawmakers will also consult with the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, according to the letter.

Jensen Farms didn’t immediately return an e-mail seeking comment.

Health inspectors found widespread contamination and poor sanitary practices at the packing facility owned by Jensen Farms, according to an Oct. 19 letter to the company from the FDA. Family members of those stricken by the outbreak sent a letter Oct. 7 to the committee calling for public hearings to “seek answers to this tragedy.”

--Editors: Adriel Bettelheim, Bruce Rule

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephanie Armour in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Adriel Bettelheim at

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