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FDA cites dirty equipment in cantaloupe outbreak

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Pools of water on the floor and old, hard-to-clean equipment at a Colorado farm’s cantaloupe-packing facility were probably to blame for the deadliest outbreak of food-borne illness in 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday.

Government investigators found positive samples of listeria bacteria on equipment in the Jensen Farms packing facility and on fruit that had been held there.

In a six-page assessment of the conditions at the farm based on investigators’ visits in late September, the FDA said Jensen Farms recently had purchased used equipment that was corroded, dirty and hard to clean. The packing-facility floors also were constructed so they were hard to clean, so pools of water potentially harboring the bacteria formed close to the packing equipment.

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