Two members of the U.S. House of Representatives have written a letter requesting an investigation and hearing into the recent outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes in cantaloupe. Representatives Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) asked the House Energy and Commerce Committee and its subcommittee on oversight and investigations to conduct a probe into Listeria purportedly found at Jensen Farms in Colorado. As of October 3, 2011, the outbreak has reportedly spread to 20 states and killed 18 since it began on or after July 31, according to a CDC report.
Calling the event “the nation’s deadliest outbreak of foodborne disease in more than a decade,” the lawmakers have pressed for Jensen Farm records detailing inspections and communications with federal regulators, documents related to the company’s product monitoring, and a description of when and where Listeria contamination was first detected. “As the death toll sadly continues to climb, a congressional hearing into this matter would help us identify better ways for government and industry to work together to respond to foodborne illness,” DeGette said in a statement. Plaintiffs’ law firm Marler Clark has filed a number of lawsuits related to the outbreak. See Rep. Diana DeGette Press Release, October 3, 2011; Marler Clark Press Release, October 6, 2011.