60 Salmonella Cases Reported Due to Pre-Cut Melons
First it was Romaine lettuce, then eggs and now it’s melons. It has been a bad year for the public health department of United Stated as the country is struck by another multi-state food poisoning outbreak (there have been eight cases in 2018 so far), and this time, it’s the pre-cut melons which are the culprit. Dozens of people who consumed contaminated melons have become sick, spurring a country-wide recall of the fruit.
Melons Recalled in Eight States
Eight states have recalled pre-cut melons from an Indianapolis-based distributor after a salmonella outbreak sickened dozens of consumers last month. The infectious strain was found in mixed cut fruits, fresh-cut cantaloupe, watermelon and honeydew melon. So far, food poisoning cases have been reported in the states of Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, North Carolina, Michigan, Indiana, and Georgia. Investigators are still trying to find out if any other perishable goods have been contaminated with the bacteria.
There have been at least 60 cases of food poisoning in the eight affected states so far with 32 being from Michigan alone. Of those who have been affected by the outbreak, 31 people were hospitalized with mild to severe symptoms. However, no deaths have been reported so far. Investigators speculated that the outbreak was most likely caused by specific varieties of pre-cut melons packaged and distributed by Indianapolis-based company called Caito Foods.
The company announced that it had voluntarily decided to recall its products as a preventive measure to stop the outbreak from getting any worse. Caito Foods also said that it is temporarily stopping all production and distribution of fruits while the investigation is underway.
Although melons are considered highly perishable goods which have a shelf life of few days at most, the company fears that there is a possibility that some retailers and consumers may still have the products distributed between April 17 and June 7 in their refrigerators. The recall announcement was made to consumers and retailers in all eight states.
Recognizing Salmonella Symptoms
The contaminated fruits were packaged in clear plastic cups and distributed to popular supermarkets and wholesale stores like Costco, Walgreens, Walmart, Kroger and Trader Joe’s. Consumers are advised to check the shipping date of fresh-cut fruits from Caito Foods before buying them. Anyone who has already bought the contaminated melons is encouraged to return it to the grocery store or take it to the nearest local health department.
People in good health are able to recover from salmonella food poisoning within a week without needing to go the hospital. But in some cases, symptoms can get much worse than just abdominal cramps, diarrhea and fever, and need immediate medical attention. Very rarely, the infection can damage organs and even cause death.
The symptoms of food poisoning caused by salmonella depends on the type of bacterial strain that has caused the illness. While most common salmonella infections cause digestive problems, some strains can lead to a more serious typhoid fever. It is often hard to pinpoint food that caused the sickness since symptoms often take from 12 to 72 hours to develop. Although most symptoms like nausea, cramps and fever disappear within a week of contracting the infection, it can often take months for bathroom habits to normalize.
Most Common Type of Food Poisoning
Almost 550 million people are affected by foodborne illnesses every year, out of which 90 per cent are caused by salmonella infections, according a research by the German government. In the U.S. alone, 1.2 million people contract salmonella-related sickness every year, as estimated by CDC. Of 1.2 million, 450 cases result in deaths.
Only recently, a salmonella outbreak linked with fresh eggs from North Carolina’s Rose Acre Farms caused a massive recall of over 200 million eggs around the country. More than 35 cases of food poisoning from contaminated eggs have been reported in 9 states so far, although no deaths occurred. But probably the most serious salmonella outbreak in 2018 so far was caused by contaminated pre-packaged chicken salad by a food processing company in Iowa which sickened 265 people and resulted in one death.
Salmonella can be prevented with proper precautionary measures when cooking and preparing food. However, given the amount of pre-packaged food consumption in the country, it is almost impossible eliminate the risk completely.
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