LOS ANGELES (CBS) — An outbreak of contaminated melons from Colorado that has killed at least 18 people is spooking consumers — and hurting producers — here in California.

KNX 1070’s Bob Brill reports melon growers say people are scared to eat their fruit as the nationwide listeria outbreak extends to both the east and west coasts.

The tainted cantaloupes are linked to melons grown at a Colorado farm, but California Farm Bureau spokesman Dave Kranz says growers in this state with good melons are facing an economic dilemma.

“A lot of people have stopped eating cantaloupe altogether,” said Kranz. “There’s been a sharp drop in demand for cantaloupe no matter what the source, and that’s caused sales of California-grown cantaloupe to decrease even though the California melons are safe.”

Some of the already-harvested melons will be given to food banks but growers statewide — mainly in the San Joaquin Valley — are facing what amounts to a lost crop.

“It’s entirely possible that at least some of those melons will go to waste because they can’t sell them,” said Kranz.

If customers have any question as to where the melons were grown, Kranz advises asking your produce manager at your local store.


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