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California Melon Sales Hurt By Colorado Listeria Outbreak

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, October 14, 2011

Rodney Van Bebber is sales manager of the Pappas Produce Company in Mendota. The Fresno County town is known as "the cantaloupe center of the world."

Bebber says the listeria outbreak has been bad for business.

"It has slowed demand and our domestic sales are off by about 80%."

Bebber says they were forced to lay off workers about three-weeks before the end of the harvest season.

"We're trying to remind people that this is not a California issue. This issue came out of Colorado at one farm. It's not an industry-wide problem."

Experts say there's a perception by consumers that the fruit still isn't safe to it. They say it could be a long dry spell before sales return to anywhere close to normal.

The outbreak has been linked to 23 deaths, making it the deadliest known outbreak of foodborne illness in the U.S. in more than 25 years.

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