Unsanitary conditions at a packing plant that processed fresh cantaloupes from a Colorado farm likely contributed to one of the deadliest listeria outbreaks in U.S. history, health regulators said on Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration said the design of the plant allowed water to collect in pools and made it difficult to clean and sanitize the facility. The agency also said the plant did not pre-cool cantaloupes before putting them into cold storage.
Twenty-fives deaths have been linked to listeria associated with cantaloupes.
The outbreak, which started in September, has renewed attention on listeria as a possible contaminant of fresh produce. Listeria monocytogenes frequently causes recalls of processed meat and cheese in the United States.
The FDA said the outbreak, caused by tainted cantaloupes shipped by Jensen Farms, had infected people in 26 states.
(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein)