The cantaloupe Listeria outbreak is not what it seems. The fear mongering simply doesn’t match the reality. Is Listeria the killer that’s being portrayed? No. Was the outbreak caused by a single source? Highly unlikely. This is an exposé of an agency that has run amok.
The FDA is blaming poor sanitation for the mass listeria outbreak that has killed 25 people. The claim is utter nonsense. It may or may not be true that the sanitation at Jensen Farms, the location to which the infection was traced, was sub-par. However, the FDA’s claim makes absolutely no sense.
The FDA’s claim is equivalent to saying that the Listeria pathogen sprang into being out of nothingness.
The simple fact is that the Listeria bacteria, Listeria monocytogenes, had to come from somewhere, and that somewhere must be an animal. Listeria is a zoogenous disease. That means it comes from animals. Though it’s hardy and can live in other warm and wet conditions for a rather long time, the fact is that it doesn’t originate outside of animals. Therefore, though Listeria may have spread at Jensen Farms’ packing facility, it most assuredly did not originate there, as the farm has no animals. It is, though, in an area of mass Agribusiness factory farms.
The FDA is hiding the truth of the cantaloupe Listeria outbreak in other ways also, and its motives for doing so may be to promote an agenda that will break the back of organic and small local food producers.
We have seen mass scare mongering about the Listeria outbreak. The number of deaths that the FDA claims were caused by it have reached 25, and are predicted to go higher. Let’s examine that.
The single most salient point about the deaths associated with Listeria is that the median age of people who’ve died is 87 years. Note that’s the median, not average, age of death. The median is the midway point between the two extremes. That is, it’s halfway between the ages of the oldest person who died and the youngest person who died. In this outbreak, the oldest death was at 96 years of age, which is 9 years older than the median. That means that the youngest person to die was 78 years old.
The median age of deaths that the FDA claims were caused by Listeria is nine years beyond the current life expectancy of 78 years, and the youngest person who died had reached that age. Every death was of someone who had survived past the likely lifespan.
According to the CDC’s information on the outbreak:
That last point, the quote about most affected people being over 60 years of age, is the one most used by the mainstream media. It is, obviously, misleading, though it’s revealing in an unintentional way. It’s always stated in conjunction with the number of deaths, by juxtaposition giving the impression that people as young as 60 are dying of Listeria. That, though, is far from the truth.
The questions we should ask are: Are these deaths that the FDA and CDC claims are the direct result of Listeria actually associated with age? Could it be that Listeria was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back? Were these people likely to die soon, anyway?
Of course, each death is grievous to loved ones, but the reality is that we all die. Every single person who died had reached, at a minimum, the expected life span, and half had lived 9 years or more beyond that, one reaching an extra 18 years! Yet, this Listeria outbreak is being spun into hysteria.
The Absurd Official Advice for Eating Melons
People are being pressed into extreme measures to clean their produce—measures that cannot possibly be of much use. The CDC says:
The temperature required to kill Listeria monocytogenes is 158°F for at least 2 minutes. That’s a cooking temperature. If you’ve ever handled a melon, you know that the surface is full of irregularities and roughness. A bacterium is so tiny that it can easily avoid being washed away. And the refrigeration suggestion? Listeria monocytogenes survives and multiplies at those temperatures, though more slowly.
It’s obvious that the CDC’s suggestions are virtually useless. But, the situation is even more farcical than this.
The Prevalence of Listeria
If Listeria is so dangerous, then it must not be found in our environment too often. Right? In fact, that’s so far from the truth, it’s laughable. Listeria is widely distributed in nature. Most likely, we have been exposed to it from shortly after birth. And rarely have we become ill as a result. As the recent outbreak shows, those who fall to Listeria are those who are already severely weakened or whose immune systems have been damaged.
Because Listeria is abundant in nature and can be found almost anywhere, there can be a constant reintroduction of the organism into the food plant, retail setting, foodservice establishment and home. It is difficult to totally eliminate this contaminant from the food-handling environment …
In other words, there’s really no escaping Listeria.
So, why is Listeria being treated with such hysteria? Why the scare tactics surrounding it? Why aren’t we told the truth about it? Sure, it causes disease—but not in healthy people, at least not in a severe form. It’s suspected that many mild illnesses, ones that are not diagnosed, are the result of Listeria monocytogenes. Of course, it isn’t fun to have an upset tummy or bit of a fever. But in most people, that’s all Listeria is. The only people who are seriously harmed by it are those who are already sick.
So what’s really going on? Why are the FDA and CDC doing so much to put the Fear of Listeria into us? Why are we being urged to try to eradicate something that we humans have lived with forever? Why are we being told to do things that won’t eliminate the pathogen? Why are we being given the impression that we’re all at risk?
The answer is twofold. One is in new powers being granted to the FDA, and the other is in the recent development of a Listeria vaccine.
Though not yet available, it appears to be only a matter of time until a Listeria vaccine is available. Indeed, the process has reached the point of giving at least one candidate a name, Advaxis. Clearly, in the vaccination-crazed FDA and CDC, any new vaccine needs to be pushed—and what better way to do it than by creating hysteria around the disease?
New FDA Powers
Even more compelling, though, are the new powers being granted to the FDA. The Food Safety Modernization Act grants sweeping powers to control the food system in the United States. It grants Big Brother-like controls to the FDA in virtually all aspects of food. However, it’s always easier to implement draconian powers when the public perceives a danger. What better way to make that happen than whipping mass hysteria over a common pathogen?
The FDA is claiming that Jensen Farms’ packing plant was unsanitary, thus allowing the Listeria monocytogenes pathogen to spread on their cantaloupe—thus requiring the FDA’s control over the food system so that we can be protected.
Their statement says that the bacteria could have been in the field where they grow cantaloupe. That’s a tacit admission that Listeria is common in the environment. They point out that a truck used to take culled cantaloupes to a cattle operation was parked outside the facility, another tacit admission that the real source could have been from Agribusiness-farmed cattle.
The statement goes on to point out that water pooled on the packing facility’s floor and that the floor was difficult to clean, though there was no claim that it was unclean. The FDA says that packing equipment was difficult to clean and that—horror of horrors!—it had been used on another “raw agricultural commodity”. Again, the statement made no claim that they found any uncleanliness. Finally, the FDA says that there was no pre-cooling step to remove field heat from cantaloupes before storage, so that there “may have been” condensation on the cantaloupes that could have promoted Listeria growth. Yet again, they didn’t actually claim it caused any problems.
The FDA has used implication after implication to give the impression that something terrible was going on. But was there? The story gets even more muddy. The FDA found Listeria monocytogenes on 13 out of 39 samples, but doesn’t say how much bacteria was found. That matters, because lots of it means greater risk. Yet, they don’t mention that.
But it gets worse than that. The FDA says that it found Listeria monocytogenes that match only “two of the four outbreak strains”!
So, two of the four outbreak strains may not have come from Jensen Farms. Where did they come from? And why doesn’t the FDA concern itself with them? Could it be that their interest is only in stirring up hysteria so that they can push their extreme plans to control the food system?
Should you worry about Listeria? If your immune system is severely weakened, probably. Otherwise, this particular outbreak shows fairly clearly that it’s not a particularly fearful disease.
Should you worry about an FDA that’s running rampant? You can make your own decision.
Tagged agribusiness, cantaloupe hysteria, cantaloupe listeria, cdc, fda, jensen farms cantaloupe, jensen farms listeria, listeria fear mongering, listeria hysteria, listeria outbreak, listeria vaccine