A small number of Walmart stores in undisclosed states carried cantaloupes from Chamberlain Farms, the farm suspected to be the source of a Salmonella outbreak that killed 2 people and sickened at least 204 in 22 states in July and August.
No illnesses have been connected to cantaloupes purchased from Walmart, but a spokeswoman for the company said on Tuesday that some stores had received shipments of Chamberlain-grown cantaloupes from a single supplier near the time of the outbreak. Those shipments accounted for less than .5 percent of Walmart’s total supply of cantaloupes at the time, she said.
On August 25, Food Safety News reported that individuals infected with Salmonella in Michigan and Mississippi had purchased cantaloupe from Walmart stores. Walmart responded by stating that the company conducted an in-depth trace back investigation and determined that none of its stores in those two states had received cantaloupes grown at Chamberlain Farms.
“As soon as we were made aware of these reports, we conducted a detailed trace back investigation to determine the exact source of the cantaloupes purchased by our customers in our stores in Michigan and Mississippi,” she said. “Our records clearly show that the cantaloupes we sold in Michigan and Mississippi did not come from the farm located in Owensville, Indiana which the FDA has implicated as a source of the outbreak.”
The company’s spokeswoman would not name the states in which Walmart did sell Chamberlain cantaloupes. Walmart instructed all of its stores to discard any cantaloupes grown in southwestern Indiana on August 17, the day the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced an outbreak potentially linked to cantaloupe grown there.
Those Salmonella patients in Michigan and Mississippi have sought legal representation by food safety law firm Marler Clark, which underwrites Food Safety News.
Authorities at the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still consider Chamberlain cantaloupes one of potentially multiple sources of Salmonella Typhimurium in this outbreak. Kentucky has been the hardest hit of the states, suffering both deaths and at least 63 illnesses.
Midwest grocer Schnucks pulled its southwestern Indiana-grown cantaloupes — including Chamberlain’s — from shelves on August 16 after receiving advance warning. Meijer and Marsh also removed their Indiana-grown cantaloupes, though it remains unclear whether they carried any from Chamberlain.
Food Safety News attempted to obtain more information from FDA regarding the ongoing outbreak investigation, including the names of retailers where Chamberlain cantaloupes were sold, but an agency spokeswoman said any information ready for public release will be posted on the outbreak’s recall page.© Food Safety News