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Food Poison Journal Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

Cantaloupe’s track record: 2+ decades of outbreaks

In July, 50 people from Kentucky were sickened by Salmonella, and 2 died, linked to cantaloupes from a southern Indiana grower.  Here is the track record for this fruit, starting with the mother of them all:

  • Jensen Farms Listeria Outbreak 2011:  A multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes was associated with consumption of cantaloupe that had been grown in the Rocky Ford region of Colorado and shipped by Jensen Farms. As of December 8, 2011, a total of 146 persons had been reported to the CDC and were infected with at least one of the four outbreak associated strains. Thirty seven persons died, and one pregnant woman miscarried her pregnancy.
  • Del Monte Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak 2011:  Del Monte Fresh Produce recalled whole cantaloupes after an epidemiologic link was found between the cantaloupe and an outbreak of Salmonella Panama. The cantaloupes were sold as a package of three through warehouse clubs in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The cantaloupes were grown in Guatemala.
  • California Restaurant Cantaloupe 2008:  A confirmed outbreak of Norovirus occurred among people who had eaten cantaloupe at a restaurant in California.
  • Colorado Private Home Cantaloupe and Watermelon 2008:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Newport was linked to eating cantaloupe or watermelon while at a private home in Colorado. 
  • Agropecuraria Montelibano Cantaloupe 2008:  Cantaloupes grown in Honduras by the company, Agropecuraria Montelibano, were implicated in an outbreak of Salmonella Litchfield in the USA and Canada.
  • California Private Home Cantaloupe 2007:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Litchfield was linked to the consumption of cantaloupe that was eaten in private homes.
  • Colorado Unknown Location Cantaloupe 2005:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Newport occurred in Colorado. The vehicles of infection were cantaloupe and ground beef. The exposure location was not given. The circumstances of how these vehicles became contaminated were not described.
  • Utah Private Home Cantaloupe, Barbequed Chicken, Corned Beef 2005:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Enteritidis occurred in Utah among people who had eaten together in a private home. The vehicles of infection were described as cantaloupe, barbequed chicken, and corned beef. The circumstances behind how these foods became contaminated were not described.
  • Florida Unknown Location Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Bananas 2003:  A confirmed outbreak of Norovirus was associated with eating fruit, specifically cantaloupe, pineapple, or bananas, at an unknown location in Florida.
  • Multistate Day Care Center or Private Home Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon 2003:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonella Muenchen was associated with eating cantaloupe or honeydew melon in day care center or private home.
  • Susie Cantaloupe Distributed by I. Kunik Company 2002:  This multistate, Salmonella Poona, outbreak was one of three outbreaks that occurred between 2000 and 2002 involving imported, Mexican cantaloupe. Ten of the cases occurred in Canada. These outbreaks led to an import alert on cantaloupes from Mexico. The cantaloupe was purchased whole or eaten as part of a fruit salad or garnish. The cantaloupe had been distributed by the I. Kunik Company of McAllen, Texas, who had purchased it from a Mexican producer.
  • Oregon Nursing Home or Restaurant Cantaloupe 2001:  A confirmed outbreak of Salmonellosis occurred in Oregon. The vehicle of infection was cantaloupe. The exposure locations were “nursing home, assisted living, home care” or restaurant.
  • Viva Brand/Shipley Sales Cantaloupes 2001:  An outbreak of Salmonella Poona occurred among persons who had eaten Viva brand cantaloupe imported from Mexico; the outbreak was first discovered in California. Cantaloupes were purchased whole and pre-cut. The Salmonella Poona strain that was isolated had a rare biochemical trait, the inability to produce hydrogen sulfide. Shipley Sales, the US importer of the cantaloupes, could not provide proper Mexican documentation for inspection when requested by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The owners of the company were subsequently indicted for submitting false invoices and misrepresenting the facts to the federal government. After a financial settlement and a fine, the 66 counts of the indictment were dismissed. This outbreak was one of three outbreaks that had occurred between 2000 and 2002 involving imported, Mexican cantaloupes. The outbreaks ultimately led to an import alert on cantaloupes from Mexico.
  • Cantaloupe 2000:  An outbreak of Salmonella Poona occurred among people who ate whole or pre-cut cantaloupe. This outbreak was one of three outbreaks that occurred between 2000 and 2002 involving imported, Mexican cantaloupe. These outbreaks led to an import alert on cantaloupes from Mexico
  • Ontario, Canada, Cantaloupe 1998:  An outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg occurred in Ontario, Canada. Cantaloupe consumption was a risk factor for illness.
  • Imported Mexican Cantaloupe 1997:  Twenty four persons were known to be infected with a genetically identical strain of Salmonella Saphra. A case control study implicated the consumption of cantaloupe as a risk for illness. A traceback identified one growing region in Mexico as a source of cantaloupe for 95% of the case-patients. Very few persons reported washing cantaloupe prior to cutting them.
  • Cantaloupe 1991:  During June and July, 1991, more than 400 laboratory-confirmed Salmonella Poona infections occurred in 23 states and Canada(Ontario, Newfoundland,Quebec, Saskatchewan). Illness was associated with eating cut up cantaloupe in salad bars or fruit salads. At least 72 of the cases were in Canada. Salmonella was never isolated from cantaloupe as the produce had been consumed, or discarded, before the epidemiologic investigations began. Although industry sources identified the lower Rio Grande Valley, in Texas, as the probable source of the implicated cantaloupes, some cantaloupes may have come from Mexico.
  • Multistate Cut Up Cantaloupe 1990:  A multistate (30 states, states not described) outbreak of Salmonella Chester was linked to the consumption of cut cantaloupe that had been served in salad bars.
  • Wisconsin Unknown Location Cantaloupe 1985:  A confirmed outbreak of Campylobacter jejuni was associated with eating cantaloupe in Wisconsin. The exposure location was not available.