House panel probing contaminated cantaloupes linked to outbreak

The House Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday announced a probe of the Colorado cantaloupe farm linked to a deadly listeria outbreak.

The panel sent Jensen Farms' co-owners a bipartisan letter requesting that they make arrangements with committee staff to schedule a briefing about the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in 25 years. Jensen Farms cantaloupes are responsible for at least 25 deaths in 26 states, according to federal authorities.

The letter's authors declare themselves "very concerned" with the outbreak and share their intention to learn from anyone who can "provide insights into the causes of this outbreak and the prevention of future outbreaks."

"We ask that you preserve all documents and communications that may be relevant to understanding the reasons for the contamination and distribution of contaminated products from Jensen Farms," the letter states.

Jensen Farms issued a voluntary recall of its cantaloupes last month. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have so far identified 123 cases of people being infected. And the Food and Drug Administration found listeria in 13 out of 39 samples collected at Jensen Farms' packaging facility. 

The letter is signed by the top Republican and Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee and on its Oversight panel.