Cantaloupe Contamination: Why Are They So Often Responsible For Foodborne Illness Outbreaks?

Cantaloupes contaminated with salmonella and Listeria have been reported over the past few months and years. Cantaloupes seem more likely than any other fruits and vegetables to carry pathogens. If you believe that you or a member of your family have been sickened due to contaminated produce, please contact us immediately. Visit our food poisoning blog to learn more about food recalls and safety tips. The cantaloupe’s unique, rough skin can trap and hold bacteria, which can easily seep inside the melon. Although bacteria doesn’t usually grow on the skin of most fruits and vegetables after harvest, bacteria has been found to grow on the outside of cantaloupe and watermelon after being picked. Contamination can occur at different stages of the process – growing, harvesting, packing, storage, transport, distribution and processing – all the way to the consumer’s possession. Researchers are saying that contaminated irrigation water could be the culprit. This is said to be true since melons sit on the ground and could potentially soak in the infected water. Many other reasons are thought to aid in the contamination of melons by the spread of pathogens. In September of 2011, as many as 16 people died across 18 states due to a Listeria outbreak associated with the cantaloupe melon. A farm in North Carolina recalled hundred of crates of cantaloupes that were shipped to New York in July of 2012 due to possible Listeria contamination. Read these tips on how you as a consumer can reduce your chance of infection from cantaloupe:

  • Do not purchase a bruised or damaged melon.
  • Refrigerate fresh produce within two hours of peeling or cutting.
  • Wash all melons with cool tap water and a clean brush.
  • Wash your hands before and after handling rockmelons.
  • Do not cross-contaminate. Use clean cutting boards and utensils when handling fresh produce.

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