Grocery retailers such as Wal Mart, Kroger and Valu Market are reassuring customers that none of the cantaloupes in their stores are those affected by the ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown at an unnamed farm in southwestern Indiana that have killed 2 people and sickened at least 141 across 20 states.
The day after the outbreak was announced on Friday, Aug. 17, Wal Mart Stores, Inc. instructed managers at all the company’s stores to discard any cantaloupes grown in Indiana out of caution. The company could not confirm if any stores sourced cantaloupes from Indiana, but did confirm that no Sam’s Club stores carry Indiana cantaloupes.
Kroger, Valu Market and Paul’s Fruit Market stores around Kentucky and Indiana posted signs in stores informing customers that they did not source their cantaloupes from Indiana, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports. Kentucky has been the hardest hit state in the outbreak, with both deaths and 50 illnesses.
Health officials have refused to name the farm connected to the outbreak, but have confirmed that it will not be shipping out any more cantaloupes for the remainder of the season.
Indiana produces approximately 1 percent of the cantaloupes grown in the U.S. The majority come from California, where the industry has established numerous food safety standards.
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.”
The Foodborne Illness Outbreak Database, a product of food safety law firm Marler Clark (publisher of Food Safety News) has collected information on a number of cantaloupe outbreaks dating back to 1985:© Food Safety News