Southwest Agricultural Region Environmental Microbiology Study on Foodborne Pathogens (2019 – 2024)

In 2019, the FDA and others began a multi-year study in Yuma County, Arizona, to improve understanding of the environmental factors that may impact the presence of foodborne pathogens in the Southwest agricultural region. The goal is to identify new information about factors that significantly contribute to the introduction, persistence, growth, spread, and die-off of pathogens that could contaminate produce before harvest. Airborne transmission of STEC was documented on numerous occasions at several locations adjacent to nearby large livestock. The water quality and the vital role of localized southerly winds in transferring organisms from animal-feeding associated dust in northward directions....


The source of decade-long Listeria outbreaks was identified as cheeses manufactured by Rizo Lopez Foods

The CDC reported that as of February 8, 2024, 26 people were infected with the outbreak strain of Listeria. 23 were hospitalized, and 2 died. The CDC investigated some outbreaks connected to queso fresco and other similar types of cheese in 2017 and 2021 but did not find sufficient evidence to identify a source of the outbreaks. The breakthrough came in January 2024, when the Hawaii State Department of Health found Listeria monocytogenes in a Rizo Bros Aged Cotija cheese.  The FDA reported that WGS of a strain of Listeria monocytogenes from the environment and a sample from cotija cheese...


The outbreak of Salmonella in cantaloupes October-November 2023

The 2023 outbreak of Salmonella in cantaloupes hit the US and Canada in October 2023. It caused 5 deaths in the US and 6 in Canada. As of December 15, 2023, there were 302 people sick in the US and 129 patients hospitalized. There were 153 cases in Canada, with 53 hospitalized. The strains of Salmonella involved are very virulent and rare. The cantaloupes in this outbreak are from Mexico. The Mexican government temporarily closed the cantaloupe processing facility on December 15, 2023. A ripple effect followed due to numerous vendors producing precut products from the recalled cantaloupes. The CDC...