If the cantaloupe in your fridge came from a farm in southwestern Indiana, throw it out. If the cantaloupe in your fridge came from Burch Equipment in North Carolina, throw it out. If you don’t know where the cantaloupe in your fridge came from, throw it out.
With two current cantaloupe recalls, one of which is linked to a deadly, multi-state Salmonella outbreak, when in doubt, throw it out is the message public health officials are getting out. “Eating cantaloupe should not be the food safety equivalent of Russian roulette,” stated Attorney Fred Pritzker, who represents food poisoning victims nationwide and recently won $4.5 million for one client. “We have the technology to protect consumers from dangerous pathogens like Salmonella, and the cantaloupe industry needs to use it.”
Two weeks ago, Burch Equipment said all of the melon, cantaloupe and honeydew, that it produced during this growing season was being recalled because of possible Listeria contamination. And on Friday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that cantaloupe produced on an, as yet, unnamed farm in southwestern Indiana is the source of a Salmonella outbreak that has sickened 141 people in 20 states and caused two fatalities.
In some cases, cantaloupe and honeydew melons have stickers that identify them somehow -the name of the farm, a state or country of origin, or a PLU number. If the information on the sticker doesn’t readily identify where the melon came from, or if there is no sticker at all, consumers should ask their grocers where the melons were grown.
Burch honeydew were not marked with stickers and health officials have not released a list of states or stores where they were distributed. Burch cantaloupes have red stickers with “PLU 4319” and “Burch Farms” on them and were initially distributed to FL, GA, IL, KY, MA, MD, ME, MI, NC, NH, NJ, NY, OH, PA, SC, and VA, VT and WV. From there, however, they may been distributed to retail stores, restaurants and food service facilities in other states. So far, no illness have been reported in conjunction with this recall.
Neither the FDA nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said if the cantaloupes linked to the deadly Salmonella outbreak have stickers or not. Nor have they released a distribution list. What is known, is that the melons were sold in at least 20 states where the case counts of confirmed Salmonella infections genetically matched to the strain found in the Indiana cantaloupe are as follows: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).