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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

A Decade of Bad Cantaloupes – What can a consumer do?

With Listeria laced cantaloupe sickening dozens and killing at least four in at least nine states (the CDC will increase these numbers in the next 24 hours), what is the problem with cantaloupes and what can a consumer do?  Contaminated cantaloupes have been an issue over the last decade and before:

Del Monte Fresh Produce Cantaloupe 2011

Del Monte Fresh Produce recalled whole cantaloupes after an epidemiologic link was found between the cantaloupe and an outbreak of Salmonella Panama. The cantaloupes were sold as a package of three through warehouse clubs in Alaska, California, Colo…Read More »

California Restaurant Cantaloupe 2008

A confirmed outbreak of Norovirus occurred among people who had eaten cantaloupe at a restaurant in California.…Read More »

Multistate Unknown Location Cantaloupe 2008

A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Javiana occurred in multiple states. The specific states and the exposure location were not identified. The vehicle of infection was cantaloupe.…Read More »

Colorado Private Home Cantaloupe and Watermelon 2008

A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Newport was linked to eating cantaloupe or watermelon while at a private home in Colorado.…Read More »

Colorado Private Home Cantaloupe or Ground Beef 2008

A confirmed outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 occurred among people who had eaten cantaloupe or ground beef at a private home in Colorado.…Read More »

Agropecuraria Montelibano Cantaloupe 2008

Cantaloupes grown in Honduras by the company, Agropecuraria Montelibano, were implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella Litchfield in the USA and Canada.…Read More »

California Private Home Cantaloupe 2007

A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Litchfield was linked to the consumption of cantaloupe that was eaten in private homes.…Read More »

Atlantic City Hotel Restaurant Fruit Salad and Green Salad 2007

Initially eleven cases of Salmonella Litchfield, a rare strain of Salmonella, were identified in five states during a five-week time period through the Centers for Disease Control and Protection PulseNet system. Seven of the eleven cases had reporte…Read More »

International Health Care Facility and Nursing Home Fruit Salad 2006

Public health officials in New Hampshire identified a cluster of three Salmonella Oranienburg cases that matched by pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), a genetic fingerprinting technique. Two of the persons were co-workers at a long-term care f…Read More »

Susie Cantaloupe Distributed by I. Kunik Company 2002

This multistate, Salmonella Poona, outbreak was one of three outbreaks that occurred between 2000 and 2002 involving imported, Mexican cantaloupe. Ten of the cases occurred in Canada. These outbreaks led to an import alert on cantaloupes from Mexic…Read More »

Viva Brand/Shipley Sales Cantaloupes 2001

An outbreak of Salmonella Poona occurred among persons who had eaten Viva brand cantaloupe imported from Mexico; the outbreak was first discovered in California. Cantaloupes were purchased whole and pre-cut. The Salmonella Poona strain that was iso…Read More »

Cantaloupe Poona 2000

An outbreak of Salmonella Poona occurred among people who ate whole or pre-cut cantaloupe. This outbreak was one of three outbreaks that occurred between 2000 and 2002 involving imported, Mexican cantaloupe. These outbreaks led to an import alert on…Read More »

So, what can a consumer do?  Here are some sound ideas to protect your family:

  • Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged.
  • If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice. 
  • After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly. 
  • Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.
  • Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating.
  • If you use soap or detergents, be sure to rinse the melon well before slicing. 
  • Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes.
  • Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.
  • If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it. 
  • Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.

Cantaloupes are grown on the ground and outside.  Both factors impart risk of contamination.  Growers and shippers can do more, much more, to help limit product contamination.  Consumers can vote with their pocketbook by buying from growers and shippers who have product safety at the top of their minds – everyday.  Consumers (restaurants and private consumers) can also take the above steps to protect themselves.