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Food Safety News

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Multistate Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Indiana Cantaloupes

2 dead in Kentucky; 141 ill nationwide; 31 hospitalized

Update (Aug. 18): Wal Mart Stores, Inc. has instructed outlet managers to pull any cantaloupes grown in Indiana from its shelves, Bloomberg reports.

Wal Mart could not confirm if any stores sourced cantaloupes from Indiana, but the company took the step as a precautionary measure. The company did confirm that Sam’s Club stores do not carry cantaloupes from Indiana.

Original story below:

A multistate outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium linked to cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana has killed two people in Kentucky and sickened 141 people nationwide, the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the Indiana State Department of Health have confirmed to Food Safety News.

31 people have been hospitalized, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

A total of 20 states have been affected by the outbreak, FDA reports. Illnesses by state 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).

Illnesses began in early July, with new cases still likely to be reported in the coming weeks.

The 22 percent victim hospitalization rate (31 out of 141) is unusually high for Salmonella. The CDC estimates that of the over 1 million people sickened by Salmonella in the U.S. each year, about 1.9 percent are hospitalized.

“FDA officials are actively investigating potential sources of the outbreak, and will continue to update the public as more specific information becomes available,” said FDA in a statement Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also collaborating with state health departments to investigate the outbreak, said CDC spokeswoman Lola Russell.

A state laboratory in Kentucky genetically matched Salmonella found in cantaloupes from a southern Indiana farm to cases of Salmonella infection in Kentucky.

Kentucky health department spokeswoman Beth Fisher said that public health officials are not yet ready to name the farm, but customers should avoid cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana. A farm under suspicion of being the source has voluntarily stopped shipping out cantaloupes.

In a statement released following the news of the outbreak, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board reminded consumers that cantaloupes grown in California have never been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak, and that Californian growers have a track record of strengthening food safety standards over the past 20 years. Those safety standards now include mandatory government inspections of farms and packing facilities, as well as traceback measures in cases of recalls.

“It is very important that consumers understand the commitment to food safety the vast majority of cantaloupe producers have and that the current outbreak is the result of one individual operation that did not follow these well-established safety practices for packing cantaloupe,” the statement read.

“However,” it went on, “more concerted efforts must be made by the produce industry and our government agencies to find these bad actors in order to protect consumers as well as the people who rely on the cantaloupe industry for their livelihood.”

This outbreak comes one year after Listeria-contaminated cantaloupes grown at Colorado’s Jensen Farms killed at least 33 and sickened 147, becoming one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.

Approximately 2,400 acres of Indiana’s 15 million acres of farmland are dedicated to growing cantaloupes, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. The state accounts for about 1 percent of U.S. cantaloupe production.

Graphics courtesy of CDC.gov

© Food Safety News
  • Paul F Schwarz

    I feel like I have been kicked in the stomach. My heart goes out to the families and the victims of this latest cantaloupe food borne illness. California and Colorado have strengthened their food safety standards especially for cantaloupe. The problem still exists for the ‘bad actors’ in the industry.
    This September the families of the Jensen Farms Listeria outbreak are observing a 1 year anniversary. This will not be a joyous time. The PEW Charitable Trusts are offering the families of the Jensen Farms Listeria outbreak an opportunity to come to DC to try to move The Food Modernization Safety Act to become law. We can make a difference!
    Paul A Schwarz
    December 18, 2011
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3 Ft Leavenworth/Leavenworth National Cemetery

  • Natalie

    Finally! I found a list of states affected! Still would like to see a list where Cantaloupes were sent tho even if no cases were reported!! Not sure why this would be so hard to find!!

  • Ramona and Lincoln Leer

    King Crow cantaloupes from Wal-mart in August2012 #4050— Are they safe?

  • steve

    Obama did crap to food safety.
    Guys spent 5 trillion and did nothing.

  • John

    Are the canteloupes from Ultra foods in Northwest Indiana outide of Chicago safe? They are marked S&S Stamoules Produce co. #4050 It also has a red tag.

  • http://N/A Jerry Miller

    Why don’t they fire the inspectors who do not check the cantaloupes or just failed to care about violations that had to exist for a good while. Why don’t they remove all cantaloupes from the stores? Apparently there isn’t much preventative consumer precautions that take presidency over safety rather than stopping dangerous and proven poisonous products.
    Ai am glad I do not work for such a worthless branch of government.

  • doc raymond

    Jerry Miller, you obviously do not understand the US food safety inspection system. Cantaloupe production falls under the FDA, which does not have the funding to provide more than an occasional audit, say every 5-10 years. Which inspector would you fire if no inspector was on site?

  • doc raymond

    Jerry Miller, you obviously do not understand the US food safety inspection system. Cantaloupe production falls under the FDA, which does not have the funding to provide more than an occasional audit, say every 5-10 years. Which inspector would you fire if no inspector was on site?

  • Bunny Music

    Why don’t you let us know the names of the farms where these come from? I just bought melons from King Crow. Where is that?

  • Jane

    King crow is California based……your cantaloupes should be fine

  • John

    Jerry Miller, should they also remove all Tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, lettuce, chicken, avocados, grapes, strawberries, beef, fish, canned goods, bottled goods, water, spices, flour, sprouts, hot dogs, pickles, and juices from the stores? After all, each of those products have had recalls at some point in the past.
    It is hard for growers to implement a bunch of food safety stuff, because the Grocery Stores hardly pay the farmers a living wage for their products. The grocery store will pay the farmer maybe $5 for a 25-pound box of tomatoes, even though the store then goes to sell that same box of tomatoes for $50 at $2/pound. Once at the store, all food safety is out the window. How many people do you think handled that apple you are about to eat? Watch people in the produce isle, it’s disgusting how much they touch and all the fruits and vegetables. Dozens of different people at the store have touched that apple. How many of those people were picking their nose in the car on the way to the store? How many of them had just sneezed into their hand or scratched some itching sweaty part of their body? How many of them had just handled a leaking package of raw chicken or raw ground beef? Have you ever seen a grocery cart being cleaned or sanitized? Me neither…

  • Cook

    Gawd! Here we go again. Melons are getting a terrible reputation and it is a shame. I refuse to quit eating melon, but I DO take some precautions:
    When selecting and buying, I use double plastic produce bags and never put anything else in the same bag. I use a hand sanitizer afer selecting my melons. At home, everything else is processed and stored first, the melons last. Sadly, I have to SCRUB them with a soft brush and mild hand soap, followed by a mild BLEACH and water solution, before drying adn storing. It seems like an awful amount of work, but then we’ve never experienced a food-carried illness – that we know of. I do it for all melons, but I strongly suspect that the exterior texture of the cantalope has a lot to do with its harboring e.coli and other seriously nasty bugs. That’s why I use the soft brush and the nasty bleach. That surface is just made to retain anything that it is exposed to. And a note to melon (and ALL fruit) farmers: Please provide porta-potties for your itenerant picking help, do they don’t have to take that urgent dump in your fields! Handwashing facilities wousl also be nice as well as some kind of isolation gloves. The porta’s are probably mandatory, but a lot still don’t provide them. You cannot MAKE someone wash their hands after a dump, but you CAN demand that they wear gloves. Even if they use five+ pair per day, those simple plastic ones are enough and the cost is close to nothing. We cannot fix the farmers or the less-than-clean pickers, but we CAN wash our food! Cantalope get’s a bad rap, but its very construction just begs to carry stuff that we don’t want to ingest. And if it is not human dump residue on the melons, then ban the farmers from using ‘Barn run-off’ to irrigate their fields. Many do still do it and it is p robably the cource for of most of this contamination. Please guys!! Please don’t spray leftover cao and pig shit on your fruit! Got it?

  • http://smartstudio.us mb

    S&S Stamoules Produce co. #4050: Internet site says California.

  • Tombo OCon

    will someone plese let me know if it is safe to eat cantaloupes with S&S STAMOULES PRODUCE CO STICKERS ON THEM safe to eat or not? I will be cutting one in 5 minutes to eat so please let me know asap. Thanks in advance