Three Deaths, 230 Salmonella Food Poisoning Cases Linked to Recalled Cantaloupes

The number of salmonella food poisoning illnesses linked to recalled cantaloupes has more than doubled since the end of November.

Hundreds of people have fallen ill, dozens hospitalized and at least three have died due to salmonella food poisoning from cantaloupes, which have been recalled by federal food safety regulators this year.

According to a recent cantaloupe salmonella food poisoning outbreak update issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week, at least 230 illnesses have been linked to recalled cantaloupes nationwide since issues were first detected in early November.

The CDC reports that the illnesses have been documented in 38 states, with 96 people hospitalized and at least three deaths reported.

As the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continue to actively monitor the outbreak, officials warn the number of confirmed illnesses linked to recalled cantaloupes continues to grow at an rapid rate. Salmonella poisoning illnesses have more than doubled since the last CDC update on November 27.

Cantaloupe Salmonella Food Poisoning Outbreak

Salmonella is a bacteria that can cause severe and sometimes fatal infections. Symptoms usually occur within 12-72 hours after exposure to contaminated food, and can last from between four and seven days.

Healthy individuals may only experience minor symptoms after salmonella exposure, including diarrhea, fever, nausea, or abdominal cramps. However, young children, elderly adults, and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience severe or life-threatening complications.

In severe cases, salmonella infections can travel into the bloodstream and spread to other areas of the body, resulting in fatal health consequences.

U.S. officials began investigating  the salmonella outbreak in the U.S. after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) linked nearly one hundred laboratory-confirmed cases of Salmonella Soahanina, Sundsvall, and Oranienburg illnesses to cantaloupe products in early November.

As a result of the investigation’s findings, the CFIA issued a cantaloupe recall for whole and cut cantaloupe products sold under the Malichita and Rudy brand names across six provinces in Canada.

The cantaloupes were also distributed across the U.S., prompting officials to initiate an investigation as they became aware of a rapidly growing number of food poisoning illnesses reported across the country. Testing confirmed the salmonella strains that infected those in the U.S. were the same ones found among those who suffered from salmonella poisoning in Canada.

Cantaloupe Recalls Impacting Multiple Brands in U.S.

Sofia Produce, LLC, doing business as TruFresh issued the first of many recalls in the U.S. market on November 8, following the Malichita and Rudy cantaloupe recalls in Canada. The TruFresh cantaloupe recall impacted all sizes of its fresh cantaloupes sold under the Malichita brand name, which were labelled with the same PLU number 4050 printed on the sticker as those impacted in the Canadian recall.

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On November 22, TruFresh expanded its recall to include additional batches of potentially contaminated fruit that were sold under the brand name Rudy. The Rudy cantaloupes were also labelled with same PLU number 4050 printed on the sticker.

Several other distributors of the contaminated Malichita and Rudy brand cantaloupes have issued recalls since, including cantaloupes sold under the Crown Jewels Produce and Pacific Trellis Fruit labels.

In addition, several other recalls were issued for fresh-cut fruit products containing Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupes. A wide variety of clamshell, tray, and fruit medley products that included cubes or chunks of recalled cantaloupes were recalled by ALDI, Vinyard Fruit and Vegetable Company, CF Dallas, LLC, Freshness Guaranteed, Bix Produce, Kwik Trip, Inc., GHGA, LLC, and TGD Cuts, LLC. The products were distributed nationwide to several different stores, including Walmart, Sam’s Club, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, among others.

Officials indicate the salmonella contamination investigation is still ongoing, and the agency will update the public as more information becomes available.

For a complete list of the whole cantaloupe and pre-cut cantaloupe product recalls that have been issued to date, consumers may visit the FDA’s cantaloupe recall website.


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