cantaloupe.jpgPublic health officials have identified cantaloupes sold by Del Monte Fresh Produce as the likely cause of a recent Salmonella Panama outbreak that has sickened at least 12 people in 7 western states. The Gables, Florida based company recently recalled nearly 60,000 cantaloupes after learning of the product’s link to the Salmonella outbreak.

The cantaloupes were distributed in warehouse clubs in Alaska, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. They were sold in bulk with 3 cantaloupes in one plastic sleeve with a plastic orange handle, the Del Monte logo, and the words “3 Count, Product of Guatemala”.

“The food industry has a responsibility to produce and sell only food free of contaminants or pathogens; no exceptions,” said Bill Marler, Managing Partner of Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm. “It seems clear in this instance that Del Monte has failed to protect the customer and it is only right that the company pay for the medical costs incurred by those sickened from its products.”

This outbreak marks the twelfth documented cantaloupe-based Salmonella outbreak in the United States since 1990, with nearly 950 reported illnesses.

In Del Monte’s case this is the third recall it has issued in less than two years. In late 2009 the California State Department of Public Health warned consumers not to eat Del Monte cantaloupe due to Salmonella and the company recalled 1,120 cartons of its product. Then in 2010, Michigan Department of Agriculture testing detected the presence of Salmonella on Del Monte cantaloupe resulting in the recall of 81 cartons of cantaloupe.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can begin 6-72 hours after ingestion and include abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, vomiting, and dehydration. If you believe you may have a Salmonella infection consult a healthcare professional immediately. To learn more about Salmonella, visit  Complication like Reactive Arthritis and Irritable Bowel Syndrome may occur.  For information on prior Salmonella Outbreaks and Litigation, see Marler Clark.