The Energy and Commerce Committee today released a new bipartisan staff report that details the findings from the committee's investigation into the 2011 Listeria outbreak in cantaloupes grown and processed at Jensen Farms. The report is based on documents from and interviews with food safety officials at the Food and Drug Administration, Jensen Farms, Frontera Produce (the cantaloupe distributor), Primus Labs, and Bio Food Safety (third-party auditors of Jensen Farms).
"The recent outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes was the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in over twenty-five years. The committee launched this investigation to provide helpful information to the FDA, growers, distributors, and other authorities in their efforts to improve the safety of our nation's food supply. The committee will continue to monitor upcoming examinations of the Listeria outbreak and related proposals to help prevent another such tragedy," said Chairman Fred Upton, Ranking Member Henry A. Waxman, Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, Ranking Member Diana DeGette, Subcommittee Chairman Joseph R. Pitts, Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr., and Rep. John D. Dingell.
The report provides insight into two probable causes of the introduction and spread of the Listeria contamination at Jensen Farms: the use of new processing equipment and the decision to implement a packing and washing technique involving water without added chlorine. The report also discusses recent third-party audits conducted at Jensen Farms and raises questions for the FDA and industry to review and address.