There's Salmonella In The Cantaloupes!

The FDA is detaining shipments of “cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, because, based on current information, fruit from this company appears to be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the United States and Canada.”

The FDA says it has received reports of 50 illnesses in 16 states and nine illnesses in Canada linked to the consumption of cantaloupes, and has issued some instructions to keep you salmonella free:

The FDA recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella or other foodborne illnesses from cantaloupes:

* Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

* After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.

* Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.

* Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. Don’t use soap or detergents.

* Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes. Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.

* If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.

* Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.

* Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing cantaloupes outdoors.

FDA Warns of Salmonella Risk with Cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano [FDA]
(Photo:Coelacanth Books)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Seems like a good reason to avoid cantaloupes.

  2. Beerad says:

    Now, I’m no cantaloupe expert (if only I had a dime for every time I had to say that) but I would think this is mostly a problem if you plan on chewing on the rind of the cantaloupe? Otherwise, normal safe handling procedures (no cross-contamination, no leaving food on the counter exposed for days, etc.) seem like they should keep you nice and safe. Aren’t we a long way from cantaloupe season anyhow?

  3. smitty1123 says:

    … you are supposed to wash something before eating it? Really? Hmmm. I always thought my Mom was just full of shit. Learn something new every day.

  4. leprofie says:

    But when you cut a cantaloupe, you spread whatever is on the skin into the fruit. Wash the whole thing first!

  5. Consumerist, this is bad, bad advice, because the strain of penicillin that can be made in large commercial quantities was discovered on a bad cantaloupe in Peoria, IL.

    How will we find the next miracle drug if people demand properly-handled fruit??????


    [] The cantaloupe in question apparently came from a secretary who, like everyone at the Ag lab (USDA lab in Peoria), was instructed to bring in interesting molds for inspection. My next door neighbor works at the Ag lab now, he’s the chief scientist in charge of “finding things to do with the useless bits of corn so we can use tax dollars to subsidize more corn.” Penicillin seems quite a bit sexier.

  6. loueloui says:

    This goes hand in hand with the au bon pain thread. First boobs, and now melons! Methinks I see a trend starting.

  7. ClayS says:

    I agree. If you need to scrub your hands after handling cantaloupes, you probably don’t want to ingest it.

  8. AbsoluteIrrelevance says:

    Those are a lot of tips for handling cantaloupe. I doubt grenades have that much instruction on the box.

  9. MaelstromRider says:

    @Beerad: If you don’t wash the melon before you cut into it, then you drag all the contaminants on the rind into the flesh with the knife when you cut it.

  10. marsneedsrabbits says:


    It’s a problem because the knife touches the outside before it cuts through the inside, bringing bacteria to the part you eat.

    It’s also a problem if you eat it in slices on a plate with other food, because the juice drips down onto the rind and mixes with whatever else is on the plate.

    So, best to avoid cantaloupes right now, or at least these cantaloupes right now.

  11. missdona says:

    You got salmonella in my cantaloupe.

    No, you got cantaloupe in my salmonella.

    Two great tastes… nah, never mind.

    Seriously, wash your melons, people…all your melons.

  12. DrGirlfriend says:

    I knew that not liking cantaloupes would come in handy one day.

  13. SOhp101 says:

    Random fact of the day: The melon we get in the US that we think are cantaloupes are actually musk melons. If you want a real cantaloupe, go to another country.

  14. NoNamesLeft says:

    @SOhp101: Mmmmm Musk Mellon! Definatly Good Eats! :)

  15. timmus says:

    On a whim I bought a fruit bowl yesterday from our regional supermarket which had cantaloupe. Thankfully it’s been 30 hours and I have no problems to report.

  16. timmus says:

    And hey, FDA, maybe you can answer WHAT IS A FECAL BACTERIA LIKE SALMONELLA DOING IN CANTALOUPE? Did a whole truckload fall into a sewage plant and they fished them out?

  17. missdona says:

    @timmus: Melon (and squash) rinds are notoriously gross.

    If you ever see a cantaloupe with the rind on at a salad bar, leave the restaurant right away.

  18. kittenfoo says:

    why don’t they want you to use soap when you wash your melon? seems if you rinsed thoroughly it would work better than just washing with water.

  19. Dvizzl says:

    If you take a Food Handling Safety course you learn that all melons are potentially hazardous foods because they all have the potential for salmonella on the rinds. This means don’t leave cut melons out at room temp for over 2 hours. That’s about it…

    Really not a big deal.

  20. @AbsoluteIrrelevance: “I doubt grenades have that much instruction on the box.”

    Unless it’s the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.

  21. TuxRug says:

    “Cantaloupe tonight, dad’s got the car!”
    … And salmonella.

  22. dweebster says:

    damn, I like cantaloupes and now this. Please tell me where they sell the CANaloupes!!

  23. ChuckECheese says:

    @SOhp101: And which country would that be–Cantaloupia?

    For your food-paranoiacs out there, do this: Wash your produce with bland soap and water and a sponge, and then soak in a sink full of water with 1/4 cup of bleach for 10 minutes. Then rinse the produce with fresh water and let dry. I got this tip from the back of a Mexican Clorox bottle. Your cantaloupe will be cleaner than you are.

  24. Beerad says:

    @MaelstromRider: @marsneedsrabbits:

    Well, I was assuming that people washed the melon before cutting. Like I said, standard safe handling procedures. Cantaloupe always seems a bit dirtier than other produce — I imagine the weblike rind creates all sorts of lovely pockets for dust, grime, and salmonella to hide in.

  25. genterara says:

    This could be just the same case as the tuna embargo against Mexico, a farce.
    It probably the US goverment supporting its producers by blocking the external ones.

  26. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating.

    That’s not gonna work in Alamosa, Colorado.

  27. Fixxxer says:

    @NoNamesLeft: I was wondering if anyone else here would know they were really Musk Melons! Alton Brown FTW! :)