An outbreak of Salmonella Panama that has sickened at least 12 people has been linked through an epidemiological investigation to Del Monte whole cantaloupes sold in seven western states.
Del Monte Fresh Produce N.A., Inc. (“Del Monte Fresh”) announced Tuesday that it is voluntarily recalling 4,992 cartons of whole cantaloupes because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella.
The Florida-based company said it distributed the melons to warehouse-club retailers Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Del Monte’s news release did not specify which warehouse clubs are involved in the recall. The cantaloupes were offered for sale from March 10 through 21.
This is the third cantaloupe recall in as many years for Del Monte Fresh. In 2009 the company pulled 1,120 cartons of the fruit off the market after routine testing in California detected Salmonella. This past October, about 81 cartons of cantaloupes (each containing 15 melons) grown in Arizona and shipped to the Detroit area were recalled after test results were positive for Salmonella. No illnesses were associated with either of those recalls.
Melons are considered to be a relatively high risk for foodborne illness. According to the Food and Drug Administration, melons were linked to 13 of 82 outbreaks involving fresh produce that FDA investigated between 1996 and 2008. Cantaloupe was implicated in 10 of those 13 outbreaks.
Del Monte Fresh said the recalled cantaloupes in this latest outbreak were grown and shipped from the company’s Asuncion Mita farm in Guatemala.
The recalled cartons are of dark brown cardboard with the “Del Monte” logo in red lettering and “cantaloupes” in yellow lettering on a green background. They contain four plastic beige mesh sleeves, each sealed with a plastic orange handle with the Del Monte logo and indicate “3 count, Product of Guatemala” with three cantaloupes per sleeve.
Affected lot codes are: 02-15-24-10, 02-15-25-10, 02-15-26-10 and 02-15-28-10.
Del Monte Fresh said it has halted production and distribution of the product. The company said it would continue its investigation with FDA to determine where in the supply chain the contamination could have occurred.
De Monte suggests that consumers who have any of the recalled cantaloupe can return it to the place of purchase for a refund. For more information, contact 1-800-659-6500 (operational 24 hours a day, seven days a week) or email Del Monte Fresh at Contact-US-Executive-Office@freshdelmonte.com.
Salmonella Panama can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella Panama often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella Panama can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis.