Herb and Elaine Stevens didn’t expect to spend their 60th wedding anniversary Sept. 8 in a hospital room, but the Colorado couple had no choice after a meal of contaminated cantaloupe left him seriously ill with a listeria infection linked to a deadly outbreak of food poisoning.
The 84-year old Littleton man has shuttled between nursing homes and medical centers for a month, ever since he was sickened by a plastic-wrapped cut cantaloupe the pair bought at a local King Sooper grocery store. Before the illness, he was able to walk without help, stay alone for a few hours and take care of his dog. Now, says his daughter, it’s not clear whether Stevens will be able to return home.
“It’s scary,” said Jeni Exley, 55, of nearby Centennial, Colo.“You think you’re safe when you’re eating something. You put your trust in something and you get sick from it.”
Herb Stevens is among at least 55 people sickened — including eight who have died — after eating Rocky Brand cantaloupes grown and shipped by Jensen Farms of Holly, Colo. On Thursday, the federal Food and Drug Administration said that audits of Jensen Farms records revealed the suspect fruit was shipped to 22 states, up from an original estimate of 17.