Bill Marler recently brought to my attention an article published roughly six years ago in the Journal of Food Science. The article details a study that shows that washing cantaloupes with hot water was an effective method in reducing the likelihood of bacterial contamination.
The study demonstrated that surface pasteurization can greatly reduce levels of Salmonella from the surfaces of cantaloupes. Beyond that, it appears that the “edible portions of cantaloupes remain cool” during such a treatment.
It does not appear that the heat treatment, and other best agricultural practices, have been consistently followed in cantaloupe production. In the wake of last years deadly listeria outbreak from cantaloupe, the growing practices invovled came under fire from Congress and the FDA.
But the 2011 listeria outbreak was not the first outbreak linked to cantaloupe.
Courtesy of outbreak database, here are reported cantaloupe outbreaks:
- Del Monte Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2011)
- California Restaurant Cantaloupe Outbreak, Norovirus (2008)
- Colorado Private Home Cantaloupe and Watermelon Salmonella outbreak (2008)
- Agropecuraria Montelibano Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2008)
- Colorado Cantaloupe Salmonella at Private Home (2007)
- Atlantic City Hotel Restaurant Fruit Salad and Green Salad 2007
- Grocery Store, Health Care Facility, and Nursing Home Fruit Salad 2006
- Colorado Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak (2005)
- Utah Private Home Cantaloupe, Barbequed Chicken, Corned Beef 2005
- Florida Unknown Location Cantaloupe, Pineapple, Bananas 2003
- Multistate Day Care Center or Private Home Cantaloupe and Honeydew Melon 2003
- Washington State Church Cantaloupe, Grapes, Watermelon 2002
- Susie Cantaloupe Distributed by I. Kunik Company 2002
- Oregon Nursing Home or Restaurant Cantaloupe 2001
- Viva Brand/Shipley Sales Cantaloupe (2001)
- Cantaloupes 2000
- Ontario, Canada Cantaloupe 1998
- Imported Mexican Cantaloupe 1997
- Cantaloupe 1991
- Multistate Cantaloupe 1990
- Multistate Cut Cantaloupe 1989
- Wisconsin Unknown Location Cantaloupe 1985
Maybe its time to read up in those scientific journals?