April 16, 2014

Cantaloupe, When In Doubt Throw It Out

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.”

Get Salmonella help here.

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).

Comments

  1. Lee J. Erdo says:

    This is getting ridiculous, why are all these food contaminations happening?

    • Linda Larsen says:

      I agree that we shouldn’t be having this trouble with cantaloupe after the Jensen Farms outbreak last year. But unfortunately, bacteria are everywhere. And it doesn’t take many of them to make people sick. Just 10 E. coli bacteria can make you seriously ill. I wish that the government would include more pathogenic bacteria in the list of contaminants that make food adulterated. As it stands now, only shiga toxin-producing E. coli in beef, Listeria, and Salmonella in ready to eat foods make food illegal to sell. Food contaminated with all other bacteria are legal to sell until someone gets sick. This approach sickens too many people.

      • Lee J. Erdo says:

        thank you for your reply. It is scarey b/c I love cantelope and love to slice it and bring it for lunch, as many others do. We didn’t have all these problems with contaminated food years ago, that I remember? Perhaps I’m wrong, but surely don’t remember?

        • Linda Larsen says:

          I know, I love cantaloupe too, but I’ve avoided it since the Jensen Farms outbreak last year. There are more recalls; in fact, recalls are up by 19% this year. But Americans have been getting sick and dying from foodborne illness since the beginning of the country. I like to think we’re more aware of food safety rules and pay more attention to recalls!

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