PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – It’s being described as one of the deadliest food outbreaks in the US in more than a decade: at least 13 people in eight states have died after eating contaminated cantalopes.

Authorities have identified a Colorado farm where the fruit came from (see related story), but food safety experts say there is some crucial advice that consumers need to know.

Nancy Childs, professor of food marketing at St. Joseph’s University, says this outbreak has been a special challenge to track down.

“It surprises me a great deal in that Listeria rarely shows up on fresh fruit,” she says. “This is something we associate with meats and animal products.”

Nevertheless, she says, consumers cannot just rely on the government to protect them.

“What’s alarming is that the US population is really moving backwards about using good food safety practices in their kitchens.”  And Childs says that needs to change.

Doug Karas, at the FDA, says don’t be shy about demanding to know where your food comes from.  And, he adds, “One thing to know about Listeria that, unlike other foodborne illnesses, the bacteria can actually thrive in refrigeration.”  So it is important you clean and disinfect your fridge regularly.

Reported by Michelle Durham, KYW Newsradio 1060

Top Content On CBSPhilly

Watch & Listen LIVE