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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

A “Silver Bullet” for Salmonella Cantaloupe – Hot Water?

Not sure about Listeria – 146 sick with 32 dead.

cantaloupe_frontera.jpgAccording to the USDA, the use of hot water as a method to decontaminate cantaloupe is more effective than various other washing and physical treatments tested to date.  The work presented in a USDA article demonstrates the utility of surface pasteurization to greatly reduce levels of Salmonella from the surfaces of cantaloupes.

In addition, heat penetration analysis coupled with computer simulation of heat transfer indicates that the edible portions of cantaloupes remain cool while the temperature of the rind outer surface elevates rapidly.  This is an added benefit to the use of hot water surface pasteurization. Experiments are currently under way to examine the quality and shelf life of melons exposed to various thermal treatments.

For the entire article the link is: http://ddr.nal.usda.gov/bitstream/10113/1811/1/IND43797605.pdf 

Some would certainly say that it is past time for that.  Courtesy of outbreak database, here are reported cantaloupe outbreaks:

Del Monte Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2011)

California Restaurant Cantaloupe Outbreak, Norovirus (2008)

Colorado Private Home Cantaloupe and Watermelon Salmonella outbreak (2008)

Agropecuraria Montelibano Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2008)

Colorado Cantaloupe Salmonella at Private Home (2007)

Atlantic City Hotel Restaurant Fruit Salad and Green Salad 2007

Grocery Store, Health Care Facility, and Nursing Home Fruit Salad 2006

Colorado Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2005)

Utah Private Home Cantaloupe, Barbequed Chicken, Corned Beef 2005

Florida Unknown Location Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Bananas 2003

Multistate Day Care Center or Private Home Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon 2003

Washington State Church Cantaloupe, Grapes, Watermelon 2002

Susie Cantaloupe Distributed by I. Kunik Company 2002

Oregon Nursing Home or Restaurant Cantaloupe 2001

Viva Brand/Shipley Sales Cantaloupe (2001)

Cantaloupes 2000

Ontario, Canada Cantaloupe 1998

Imported Mexican Cantaloupe 1997

Cantaloupe 1991

Multistate Cantaloupe 1990

Multistate Cut Cantaloupe 1989

Wisconsin Unknown Location Cantaloupe 1985

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    That would be great news if it really works!! Now if only it would work for sprouts!!!

  • Hot water by itself is also an effective antimicrobial on beef carcasses on a kill floor. Dr. Gary Acuff (Texas A & M) conducted a study (financed by USDA) on my kill floor in 2005, in which he intentionally inoculated each half of beef on my kill floor to test the efficacy of interventions. On the very bottom of one half, he innoculated with a surrogate organism which closely mimicked E.coli O157:H7. On the bottom of the other half, he innoculated with fresh manure from my holding pens. After we washed the animals, Dr. Acuff collected samples for lab analysis.
    The conclusion of this study was that the hot water carcass spraying procedure reduced coliforms and the surrogate organism by a mean log reduction of 4.0 on a consistent basis. It also concluded that the hot water wash reduced counts to below the minimum detection level.
    Ain’t it ironic that in our scientifically advanced era which requires continual development of additional pathogen intervention systems, that a time-tested adequate hot water wash intervention alone can reduce artificially inflated pathogen presence to a less-than-detectable result? If such dramatic success is accomplished on beef carcasses in a less than sterile beef slaughterhouse environment, perhaps equal success can be accomplished on canteloupe.
    Furthermore, blending clorox into the water would provide a higher level of pathogen control. According to USDA, blending 1 tablespoon of clorox into one gallon of water has been scientifically validated to remove rodent fecal and urine contamination on beef carcasses.
    Water washing isn’t rocket science. Just common sense.
    John Munsell

  • Lance Hill

    Would be great to see this translated in to a recommendation. Would it be 85 degrres C for 90 seconds? Has there been any further published research on this subject since since 2006?

  • Sandra

    Is it too late once the product reaches the consumer ?