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Updated December 19th, 2023 at 18:27 IST

Here's what you need to know about the deadly salmonella outbreak

A growing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to contaminated whole and pre-cut cantaloupe sickened hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada.

Digital Desk
cantaloupes
A growing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to contaminated whole and pre-cut cantaloupe sickened hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada. | Image:Unsplash
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A growing outbreak of salmonella poisoning linked to contaminated whole and pre-cut cantaloupe sickened hundreds of people in the U.S. and Canada, resulting in at least 10 deaths. Health officials warned consumers, retailers, and restaurants not to buy, eat, or serve cantaloupe if they were unsure of the source. 
This caution was particularly crucial for individuals vulnerable to severe illness from salmonella infection, including young children, those over 65, and those with weakened immune systems. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expressed heightened concern due to the severity of many illnesses and the inclusion of victims who consumed cantaloupe in childcare centres and long-term care facilities, as per AP reports

Salmonella outbreak, here's what we know so far

How many people were affected by the cantaloupe salmonella outbreak?

  • A total of 302 people in the U.S. and 153 in Canada were affected by this outbreak. 
  • This resulted in four deaths and 129 hospitalizations in the U.S., along with six deaths and 53 hospitalizations in Canada.

When did the cantaloupe outbreak start?

  • The first U.S. case emerged on Oct. 16, with the latest illness reported on Nov. 28.
  • Recalls in the U.S. began on November 6, with subsequent recalls of whole and cut fruit.

Where did the contaminated cantaloupes come from?

  • The implicated cantaloupes, brands Malichita and Rudy, were grown in Mexico's Sonora region.
  • They were imported by Sofia Produce LLC and Pacific Trellis Fruit LLC, leading to recalls of over 36,000 boxes or cases.

What actions were taken in response to the outbreak?

  • On Dec. 15, Mexican health officials temporarily closed a melon-packing plant linked to the outbreak.

How did the cantaloupes get contaminated?

  • Investigations are ongoing, but cantaloupes are generally prone to contamination due to their netted rough rinds.
  • Factors such as storms and hurricanes in the growing area, leading to flooding, may have played a role.

How can consumers handle cantaloupe to ensure safety?

  •  Recommended measures include rinsing whole melons, scrubbing them with a clean produce brush, and ensuring thorough drying.
  • Other methods like blanching in hot water or using diluted vinegar and iodine were suggested to reduce exterior contamination.

What precautions were advised for high-risk individuals?

  • High-risk groups, such as young children and those with weakened immune systems, were advised to avoid cantaloupe.
  • This recommendation was particularly emphasized for pre-cut cantaloupe and during the outbreak.

What challenges do cantaloupes pose in terms of contamination?

  • Cantaloupes' netted, rough rinds make it challenging to remove bacteria, contributing to their susceptibility to contamination.
  • Factors like storms and hurricanes in the growing area can facilitate the spread of salmonella.

Why is food safety awareness crucial for consumers?

  •  Consumers often assume the safety of their food, highlighting the need for increased awareness.
  • Understanding the potential health risks associated with certain foods is essential for ensuring safety.

 

(With AP Inputs)

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Published December 19th, 2023 at 18:27 IST

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