Fire Life

Cantaloupe Recall Update, Grape Tomato Recall, Shoe and Gout, Turmeric

By Mary Jane Dittmar

The number of people diagnosed with Listeria monocytogenes as a result of eating cantaloupes from Jensen Farms in Colorado continues to grow, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As of 11a.m. EDT on September 26, 2011, the CDC received reports that 72 persons from 18 states were infected with the four outbreak-associated strains of Listeria.

All illnesses started on or after July 31, 2011. The number of infected persons identified in each state follows: California (1), Colorado (15), Florida (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (2), Kansas (5), Maryland (1), Missouri (1), Montana (1), Nebraska (6), New Mexico (10), North Dakota (1), Oklahoma (8), Texas (14), Virginia (1), West Virginia (1), Wisconsin (2), and Wyoming (1).  Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Indiana were recently added as states to which the melons had been shipped. Thirteen deaths have been reported: 2 in Colorado, 1 in Kansas, 1 in Maryland, 1 in Missouri, 1 in Nebraska, 4 in New Mexico, 1 in Oklahoma, and 2 in Texas.

The CDC said it expects these numbers to rise, since it can take up to two months for Listeriosis to develop after encountering the bacteria. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, recommends that consumers throw out cantaloupes they may have at home unless they are certain that they did NOT come from Jensen Farms.

Listeria can cause fever, neck stiffness, confusion, and vomiting, according to the CDC. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at a greater risk of developing serious symptoms. Listeria is especially dangerous during pregnancy and can infect the newborn or lead to premature delivery. Additional information is at

Organic Grape Tomato Recall

On September 28, Andrew Williamson Fresh Produce initiated a voluntary recall for one lot of organic grape tomatoes sold under the Limited Edition® and Fresh & Easy labels because of a possible health risk from Salmonella.

One clamshell of the organic grape tomatoes tested positive for Salmonella in a random sample collected and tested by the United States Department of Agriculture in Michigan. No illnesses were reported at the time this column was written.
The Salmonella organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.

The organic grape tomatoes are sold in 10.5-ounce plastic containers containing UPC code #033383655925, located on the front of the package, below the barcode. The containers also have the words “LIMITED EDITION” and “Product of Mexico” on the label. They are also sold in seven-ounce plastic “clam shell” containers with Barcode #20025465, and marketed under the “Fresh & Easy” brand. They were distributed to 18 U.S. states–Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah–and two Canadian Provinces, British Columbia and Ontario). For additional information, e-mail [email protected].

Poor Footwear and Gout Pain

There is a connection between poor footwear and gout, according to a study published today in Arthritis Care & Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR). The study, led by Professor Keith Rome from AUT University, Auckland, New Zealand, revealed that patients with gout who made poor footwear choices relative to comfort, fit, support, and cost had more foot-related pain, impairment, and disability.

Gout, a type of inflammatory arthritis caused by the crystallization of uric acid within the joints and other tissues, causes severe pain and swelling. It occurs most often in the feet (often the large toe).

Good footwear choices included walking shoes, athletic sneakers, or oxfords. Poor choices included sandals, flip-flops, slippers, or moccasins. Boots were considered an average choice. Characteristics of poor footwear included improper cushioning, lack of support, inadequate stability and motion control, and old shoes that had acquired patterns from excessive wear. “Footwear Characteristics and Factors Influencing Footwear Choice in Patients with Gout.” Professor Keith Rome, Mike Frecklington, Peter McNair, Peter Gow, Nicola Dalbeth. Arthritis Care and Research; Published Online: September 30, 2011 (DOI: 10.1002/acr.20582).

Spotlight on Tumeric

Turmeric, the root of the Curcuma longa plant, and curcumin, the yellow or orange pigment of turmeric, have been receiving much attention lately as a spice that has demonstrated therapeutic properties. Probably best known as a curry ingredient, turmeric has a bright yellow color and a flavor that some consider to resemble that of orange and ginger.

Turmeric is an excellent source of iron and manganese and a good source of vitamin B6, dietary fiber, and potassium.

The oil of this spice has been used for centuries as an antiinflammatory in Chinese and Indian medicine. Research has shown that curcumin, a phytonutrient and component of turmeric, is a powerful antioxidant. It has been shown to counteract chemicals that damage healthy body cells and membranes and cause inflammation. Curcumin has been shown to have some potential as a possible treatment for some diseases and for preventing some forms of cancer and inhibiting cancer cell growth and metastases.

Combining turmeric and cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, kohlrabi, and turnips) was found to reduce tumor growth and the spread of cells in mice with well-established prostate cancer. Turmeric may be effective in inhibiting the mutagenicity of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) (carcinogenic chemicals created by the burning of carbon-based fuels, including cigarette smoke) and in other harmful cell effects resulting from  radiation and amines and nitroso compounds found in processed foods and meat products. Curcumin may be able to prevent the oxidation of cholesterol in the body.  Additional information on turmeric and simple ways to incorporate it in your cooking are at

Information provided here is not to be construed as medical advice. It is presented so that you can make more informed decisions about your diet and health, hopefully by building on the information with additional research. 

Photos courtesy of

Mary Jane Dittmar is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.