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Cut Melon Linked to Dozens of Salmonella Food Poisoning Cases, Hospitalizations

Fresh cut melons and mixed fruit sold at Costco, Walmart and other popular grocery chains have been linked to a multi-state outbreak of salmonella food poisoning, which has already sickened at least 60 people in five different states. 

The FDA announced a Caito Foods fresh cut melon recall on June 9, after the products were linked to cases of Salmonella Adelaide, which has hospitalized more than half of the individuals sickened.

Federal health regulators are actively monitoring the Salmonella outbreak, to find all of the retailers who received the recalled fruit, and have them removed from store shelves immediately.

Investigators from the CDC began receiving illness reports April 30, 2018 and believe there could be additional cases not yet reported, due to the two to four week average lag of illnesses being reported to federal health officials.

According to the CDC epidemiologic and traceback investigations, a majority of the sickened individuals interviewed reported eating pre-cut melon purchased from grocery stores, including cantaloupe, watermelon, or fruit salad mixes with melon. The remaining individuals interviewed reported eating melon but could not specify if the products were precut.

The recalled fruit includes fresh cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and fresh cut fruit medley products that were sold in clear, plastic clamshell containers at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart, and Whole Foods/Amazon retailers. A full list of the recalled products is available in the FDA recall notice.

The fruit was distributed by Caito Foods, LLC of Indianapolis, Indiana to retailers in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. Michigan has reported more than half of the illnesses to date, with other reports coming from Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio.

The FDA and CDC are instructing customers to not eat any of the recalled fruit products and to properly discard them. Those with fruit products that are unsure of where they were purchased or unsure of the distributor should discard also discard the products. Retailers are being instructed to remove any and all recalled products or products that could have come in contact with the contaminated fruit products.

Salmonella infections can cause mild to severe health consequences depending upon the individual. The bacteria may cause a healthy person to experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain whereas the young or elderly with weakened immune systems may face more severe consequences, including fatal infections.

Among pregnant women, salmonella poisoning may cause still births and miscarriages. Occasionally, salmonella infections may travel through the bloodstream and produce illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis, which can cause severe to potentially life threatening health consequences.

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