A produce company out of Grand Rapids, Michigan is recalling 5,400 cantaloupes of the Athena variety due to fears of a bacterial contamination that can cause severe illness. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found Listeria bacteria in samples of the fruits during normal inspections.

No one has been made ill from the supposed contamination. The cantaloupes were sold in Michigan between July 33 and 26, at small independent grocers. There are no markings or stickers on the cantaloupes indicating that they could be from the Heeren Brothers Produce company.

"After receiving notice from the FDA, Heeren Brothers Produce immediately alerted retailers and requested that they remove the produce from their shelves," the company press announcement states. "Heeren Brothers Produce has also contacted the supplier of the cantaloupes. The source of the potential issue is still under investigation. Heeren Brothers Produce is cooperating fully with the FDA."

Listeria infection can be extremely dangerous for the young, elderly, and those with compromised immune systems. In addition, pregnant women may have miscarriages as a result of infection. Infection and development of the associated disease called listeriosis has a mortality rate of 20 percent. The cause of the high mortality is that systemic infection with the bacteria can result in a form of meningitis and sepsis.

In 2011, there was an outbreak of Listeria infections connected to a Colorado cantaloupe farm, claiming 13 lives, mostly the elderly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that that outbreak made 72 people ill in 28 states. Health officials are understandably concerned because this case was the third worst food borne illness, in terms of deaths, in U.S. history.

It can take close to two months for a person who has been infected with the bacteria to become ill, so identifying potential patients is difficult.

The FDA suggests that all raw produce be washed under running water. It is also important to use a fruit wash, or rinse fruits and veggies with soap, or an extremely diluted bleach wash, then washed again with water. In order to prevent cross-contamination of food and cutting boards, it is suggested that people preparing food use different knives and cutting boards for meats and produce.

The company says that consumers with questions may call it at 616-452-2101 between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.