Cantaloupe is the culprit in a salmonella outbreak that has killed two and sickened at least 141 people nationwide, in 20 U.S. states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tainted melon was most likely grown in Southwestern Indiana and shipped across the county. Both of the deaths linked to the melons occurred in Kentucky.
The FDA has traced the source of the salmonella to an Indiana farm whose name has been withheld. The farm is “withdrawing its cantaloupe from the market place” and has agreed “to cease distributing cantaloupes for the rest of the growing season,” the FDA said in a statement. Health officials are investigating farms, distributors, and retailers hoping to track the tainted melons and remove them from the food supply. Until then, health officials are advising consumers to discard Indiana cantaloupes purchased since July 7. “Many cantaloupes have the growing area identified with a sticker on the fruit,” the CDC said. “If no sticker is present, consumers should inquire about the source. When in doubt, throw it out.”
Symptoms of salmonella—diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramp—appear 12 to 72 hours after infection, according to the FDA. Most people recover from a salmonella infection without medical intervention, but the bacteria can be deadly for the young, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems. Thousands of Americans contract salmonella illness each year, often from uncooked chicken, according to The Washington Post.
This isn’t the first time that cantaloupe has been the source of a bacterial outbreak in the food chain. Last year 28 people died after eating melons that were contaminated with listeria, a different bacteria, according to the Wall Street Journal. It was one the worst food-borne outbreaks in nearly 30 years.