Contaminated cantaloupe sickens 13
March 29th, 2011
04:45 PM ET

Contaminated cantaloupe sickens 13

Cantaloupe contaminated with salmonella has sickened 13 people in five states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

Five people in Oregon, four in Washington State, two in California, one in Colorado, and one in Maryland have become ill. Of the 13 patients, three have been hospitalized; none have died, according to the CDC's website.

"This is a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Panama," said Dr. Ian Williams, chief of the outbreak response and prevention branch of the CDC.  "It is an unusual [type of salmonella], and it's a really unusual occurence to have this many cases at once, so we figured that everyone who was sick had something in common."  That something, he said, was cantaloupe.

On March 22, the Del Monte Fresh Produce company voluntarily recalled almost 5,000 cartons of cantaloupes because of concerns that the melons were contaminated with salmonella. The recalled cantaloupes were distributed through wholesale warehouse clubs in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, according to the CDC.

"The recalled products consist of cartons of cantaloupes, each containing four plastic mesh sleeves with three cantaloupes per sleeve that were available for sale between March 10 and March 21, 2011," according to a press release from the agency.

Salmonella typically causes unpleasant to severe gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal cramps and fevers.  It is rarely life threatening when treated quickly in otherwise healthy individuals.

If you suspect that you may have purchased recalled cantaloupes, the CDC recommends disposing of them in sealed plastic bags, to prevent children or animals from eating the affected fruit.

soundoff (31 Responses)
  1. susan

    how in the HELL does salmonella get into Cantaloupe??? Is NOTHING safe anymore??? Who is responsible for this crap?

    March 29, 2011 at 18:56 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nothing

      I'm guessing flood water got soak maybe?

      March 30, 2011 at 09:48 | Report abuse |
    • Debbie

      it gets in them thru the soil

      March 30, 2011 at 10:47 | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      really, people? It's on the surface of the cantaloupe which people never wash the way they should– so when you slice open the fruit, the knife gets contaminated and drags the salmonella into the inside of the fruit.

      March 30, 2011 at 14:36 | Report abuse |
    • PDQ

      Raja, it's unlikely workers at the club store contaminated the fruit. It often happens in the fields, where there are no convenient bathrooms so the worker, who can be a healthy carrier of the bacteria, may "go" right where they are rather than trek back to the facility. I learned this in a foodborne illness seminar.

      March 30, 2011 at 15:35 | Report abuse |
  2. Al Mellen

    Did the shipment of Cantaloupe come in with the Dry Wall and the Dog Food from China?

    March 29, 2011 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nothing

      wahaha.. possible.

      March 30, 2011 at 09:49 | Report abuse |
    • marc gunn

      hmmm... maybe it came from the same place with 500 million contaminated eggs, transfat, asbestos, ford exploders.... not a foreign country or city like Bhopal,,, ooops that was a US company, my bad...

      March 31, 2011 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
  3. Josie

    For once I am glad and proud to say this is my least liked food! I haven't touched it since I was 17 (over 10 years ago)....which was the last time I was "forced" into trying it YET again. Though poor people, and it does make you wonder doesn't it.

    March 29, 2011 at 20:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • cm

      I think something is missing from your statement, what the heck are you trying to say.

      March 30, 2011 at 06:34 | Report abuse |
    • ANW

      You're "proud" that you don't like cantelope? It's fine if you don't like it....but why be proud of not likeing it?

      March 30, 2011 at 13:14 | Report abuse |
    • sockpuppet

      you're proud you don't like an extremely healthy food because of a rare contamination? And what exactly does it "make you wonder"?

      March 30, 2011 at 14:38 | Report abuse |
    • Joe smith

      Keep eating your meat there Josie.....

      March 30, 2011 at 18:05 | Report abuse |
  4. Celina Jae

    Cantaloupe is disgusting. So is salmonella. Looks like this pair was meant to be...

    March 29, 2011 at 20:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Steph

    The melons likely were either irrigated with contaminated water or the wash water they went through after harvest was contaminated. Likely tied to a lack of potable water, improper wastewater treatment, and/or migrant workers not washing hands after using the bathroom.

    The bacteria gets into the fruit when you cut through the rind, innoculating the fruit. Left at room temp (instead of refrigerated), the bacterial growth is very rapid. Scrub the rind with a weak bleach solution (1T per gallon of lukewarm water) to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. Eat it promptly and refrigertlate leftovers below 41.

    March 29, 2011 at 21:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rvt

    Hmmm. I wonder where the canteloupes came from? Where they grown in the USA? Or perhaps, I ask rhetorically, were they grown in some Third World country? For some reason, the article seems to have omitted this rather useful piece of information. I wonder why.

    March 29, 2011 at 21:25 | Report abuse | Reply
    • nothing

      yeap, either from china or somewhere. wahaha

      March 30, 2011 at 09:52 | Report abuse |
    • imuneek

      Yeah, having 1/3 of the world's wealth doesn't seem to keep many people from being dirtballs. Conversely, you don't need to be filthy just because you're poor or don't have a green card. Soap is cheap and often free. It's common laziness that we are all guilty of that prevents us from washing our hands... or our food.

      April 2, 2011 at 20:40 | Report abuse |
  7. Steph

    Rvt, I'd guess either Mexico or California. The new country of origin labeling should help trace the source.

    March 29, 2011 at 22:19 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Tammy

    An unusual strain of salmonella? What makes it unusual and del monte sends cantaloupe nationwide how do we know what cantaloupes have it and dont its fresh fruit not processed with a date? And lots of restaurants buy at wholesale warehouses. Think ill bypass cantaloupe for awhile..

    March 29, 2011 at 22:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Tammy

    The cantaloupes are from guatamaula and salmonella panama isnt ur everyday run of the mill salmonella from what ive read. What else was stored with these cantaloupes i wonder? CNN should do a little investigative reporting on this one!

    March 29, 2011 at 22:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Rita

    My parents got a message at home about the contaminated cantaloupes. My mom said her and my dad already ate the cantalouope -___-

    March 30, 2011 at 00:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Misti

    Outbreaks of food-borne illness happen often, it's just that you usually don't hear about it. Most people will have several episodes in their lifetime, but they just think they caught a virus. Go ahead and complain about the fruit possibly not being grown in the U.S., or complain about who picks it, but that really isn't the issue. In the case of fruits or vegetables, they are contaminated by the soil or water, which could happen in any country but is especially likely when we use manure from poorly treated animals in the soil.

    March 30, 2011 at 05:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. becca

    wow, this reminds me when my whole family got sick from eating cantelope on an airplane, back when the meals were included with a ticket.

    March 30, 2011 at 10:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Susannah

    Migrant farm workers who through no fault of their own, working under the hot sun with no bathroom facilities let alone running water and soap have been known to be the culprits for this salmonella bacteria.
    The canteloupe's tough, thick exterior makes it very difficult for any bacteria to penitrate it's skin.
    Consumers MUST scrub canteloupes with a soapy sponge (rinse well) prior to cutting the fruit as the knife penetrates the interior bringing in bacteria if it's not clean. Happy eating.

    March 30, 2011 at 13:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. raja

    Did anyone else notice the article did not mention WHERE the cantaloupes were grown? In addition, the cartons were sold to "wholesale warehouse clubs," i.e., Sam's Club, Costco, etc. which are often staffed by illegal aliens.

    March 30, 2011 at 13:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. Julie Labrouste, Tacoma WA

    It sure seems like there are a LOT more recalls than a few years ago, which is alarming in any number of ways, to include the fact that many recalls that should have happened in the past didn't and that companies out there are getting far too lax in their quality control. I mean...cantaloupe? REALLY? And not too long ago it was celery.

    March 30, 2011 at 14:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. tron

    All the more reason to plant a garden and grow your own.

    March 30, 2011 at 16:46 | Report abuse | Reply
    • stuff it

      this might be a dumb question, but i really don't know: can cantaloupe be grown in NY, or is it grown only in warm or tropic climates? I would love to grow my own- it is such an important part of my diet, i eat it every morning

      March 30, 2011 at 18:31 | Report abuse |
  17. heidi

    The rate of food borne illness is pretty high these days. Fruit, meat, ect. Almost everything we eat seems to be contaminated at one time or another. The cost cutting efforts of these large companies dont help matters any. Theyll do anything to save money with total disregard for the health/safety of the consumer. Ive had food poisoning 4 times in my life, and I can say its the worst sickness Ive ever had. I take precautions myself now, not relying on the corporation to provide safe food.

    March 31, 2011 at 01:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. imuneek

    Probably a small farm had a chicken coop too close to the cantaloupe and the wind blew something contaminated into the food. It's a good reminder to wash your fruit. Even if you don't eat the peel, cutting through it drags bacteria into the edible part of the fruit.

    April 2, 2011 at 20:34 | Report abuse | Reply

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