DelmonteCantaloupe1.jpgDel Monte Fresh Produce, linked to prior cantaloupe outbreaks, has dropped its frivolous lawsuit against the Oregon Public Health Division and its senior epidemiologist, William Keene, who with other public health officials from nine other states and the CDC last year traced a multistate outbreak of Salmonella infection to cantaloupes imported from the company’s Asuncion Mita farm in Guatemala.

The news was first reported by Lynne Terry of The Oregonian. She wrote that Del Monte Fresh Produce notified Oregon earlier this month that it would not go forward with legal action against William Keene Oregon Department of Health.

Del Monte Fresh Produce had earlier announced in a news release in August that “misleading allegations” had been made in naming the Guatemalan cantaloupes as the likely source of Salmonella infection that sickened at least 20 people, and sent three to the hospital. The case patients were from Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah and Washington.

Twelve of 16 ill people had recalled eating cantaloupe in the week before they became ill, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report on the outbreak investigation. Eleven of those 12 people had purchased cantaloupes from eight different Costco stores and traceback information indicated the melons were from a single farm – Asuncion Mita in Guatemala.  Del Monte Fresh Produce voluntarily recalled the Guatemalan cantaloupes on March 22, 2011 after it was notified of the epidemiological link between the melons the outbreak of Salmonella Panama infection.

  • Ain’t this interesting! Del Monte Produce threatened to sue Oregon Public Health, plus Oregon’s epidemiologist, for their success in tracing back to the SOURCE of contamination. We should not be surprised that gov entities are fearful of industry litigation when gov authorities courageously attempt to (a) protect consumers via (b) naming the SOURCE of contamination.
    USDA/FSIS provides yet another perfect example of this. For many years, FSIS has hidden behind policies which have intentionally prevented tracebacks to the SOURCE of E.coli & Salmonella contamination. Until 1.5 years ago, FSIS did not allow its inspectors to document the origin of ground meat being sampled for E.coli microbial analysis. Why? Because FSIS knows that 88% of all feedlot-finished steers & heifers are slaughtered at the Big Four Packers, who have political clout & deep pockets. FSIS has adroitly avoided Tracebacks, orchestrating all sorts of inane excuses that such tracebacks are nigh-to-impossible. Such excuses are not based in “Science”, but emanate from laziness and lack of commitment to public health.
    John Munsell