(NEW YORK) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning consumers about a multistate salmonella outbreak linked to some cantaloupes.
The CDC published a food safety alert on Friday, after multiple retailers and brands — including Trufresh, Crown Jewels Produce, Vinyard Fruit and Vegetable Company, CF Dallas, ALDI and Pacific Trellis Fruit — issued recalls for both whole and pre-cut cantaloupes.
The cantaloupes were sold by some retailers with labels or stickers that read “Malichita” or “Rudy,” and by others in clear containers or cups, pre-cut or sliced into cubes. (More specific information is included below.)
The CDC also released investigation details citing epidemiologic and laboratory data that showed “cantaloupes are contaminated with Salmonella and are making people in this outbreak sick.” Canada is also investigating the outbreak, the CDC said, and “has linked illness … with the same Salmonella strain to cantaloupes.”
As of time of publication, there have been 99 reported illnesses, 45 hospitalizations and two deaths across 32 U.S. states connected to the outbreak, according to the CDC.
The two deaths were reported in Minnesota.
The agency said the illnesses were reported between Oct. 17 and Nov. 10, however the CDC noted the number of people with illnesses connected to the outbreak is likely higher than current figures suggest.
“Recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes 3 to 4 weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak,” the CDC stated. “The true number of sick people in this outbreak is also likely much higher than the number reported. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella.”
The CDC has advised people not to eat, sell or serve any recalled fruit.
Last week, Trufresh, operating under parent company Sofia Produce LLC., expanded an earlier Nov. 8 recall to include all Malichita brand and Rudy brand whole cantaloupes sold between Oct. 10 and Nov. 3. The affected products were distributed directly to states including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Utah, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Texas and Florida, as well as Canada.
On Nov. 22, Crown Jewels Produce also recalled Malichita brand whole cantaloupes that were distributed to retailers and wholesalers in Ohio and California and sold between Oct. 31 and Nov. 9 due to possible salmonella contamination, according to a company announcement on the FDA website.
Pacific Trellis Fruit issued a similar recall on Nov. 24. According to a company announcement on the FDA website, the recall involves “4,872 cases of Malichita brand whole cantaloupe” packed in corrugated cartons and distributed between Oct. 18-26 in California, Illinois, Oklahoma, Texas and Wisconsin, and sold in various retail supermarkets.
Whole cantaloupes included in the above recalls “might have a sticker that says ‘Malichita’ or ‘Rudy,’ with the number ‘4050,’ and ‘Product of Mexico/produit du Mexique,"” according to the CDC.
Sliced or pre-cut cantaloupe products
In coordination with Sofia Produce, CF Dallas voluntarily recalled pre-cut fruit products sold under the Freshness Guaranteed and RaceTrac brand names that may have contained the recalled cantaloupes. The affected products were packaged in clear square or round plastic containers with best-by dates between Nov. 7-12. The products were sold in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
In a statement on the FDA website, CF Dallas noted that the “fresh-cut fruit products associated with the recalled whole cantaloupe have expired, however consumers who have purchased these items and may have frozen them for later use are urged not to consume the products and to dispose of them immediately or return the items to their local store for a full refund.”
Vinyard Fruit and Vegetable Company, located in Oklahoma City, issued a recall earlier this month on pre-cut cantaloupe, which included cantaloupe cubes, melon medleys and fruit medleys that were sold in Oklahoma stores between Oct. 30 and Nov. 10. A company statement on the FDA website notes that the recall was issued in relation to the earlier Sofia Produce whole cantaloupes recall.
On Nov. 14, ALDI issued a recall in association with Sofia Produce on both whole cantaloupe and pre-cut fruit products in clamshell packaging with best-by dates between Oct. 27-31 that were sold in ALDI stores in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and Wisconsin. Click here for full recall details.
“Investigators are working to identify any additional cantaloupe products that may be contaminated,” the CDC said in its food safety alert on Friday.
If you can’t tell if your cantaloupe was impacted by the current recalls and food safety alert, throw it away and do not consume it. The CDC has advised people to wash items and any surfaces that may have come into contact with the fruit “using hot soapy water or a dishwasher,” and to “call your healthcare provider if you have any … severe Salmonella symptoms.”
Symptoms and treatment of salmonella sickness
Salmonella is a bacteria that can make people sick, and most types cause an illness called salmonellosis, according to the CDC.
Most people with salmonellosis experience symptoms such as diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, which may occur hours to days after infection, the CDC states, though some do not develop symptoms for several weeks.
Infections are diagnosed through lab testing. Most people recover within four to seven days without antibiotics, according to the CDC. Antibiotic treatment is recommended for people with severe illness, those with weakened immune systems, adults 50 and older with medical issues like heart disease, as well as infants, and adults older than 65, the agency states.
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