Health officials in the United States have issued a warning, urging consumers to avoid consuming pre-cut cantaloupe if they are unsure about its source. The caution comes as the number of illnesses and recalls related to a deadly salmonella outbreak continues to rise.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), at least 117 people across 34 states have fallen ill due to contaminated cantaloupe. Among those affected, 61 individuals have been hospitalized and two fatalities have been reported. In addition, Canada has also reported 63 illnesses, 17 hospitalizations, and one death linked to the same outbreak.
The severity of these illnesses cannot be understated. Over half of the infected individuals have required hospitalization, including residents of long-term care centers and children in day care, as per the CDC.
To address the situation, various recalls of whole and pre-cut cantaloupes have been initiated. Notably, Kwik Trip markets, Bix Produce, and distributor GHGA have expanded their recalls to include products sold at Kroger, Sprouts Farmer's Markets, and Trader Joe's stores across several states, as confirmed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Given the widespread nature of the recalls and potential uncertainty surrounding the origin of cantaloupe products, health officials are urging consumers to exercise caution. In a statement, the FDA advised, "If you cannot determine whether your cantaloupe, including pre-cut cantaloupe or items containing pre-cut cantaloupe, is part of the recall, it is best to refrain from consuming or using it and dispose of it."
It is important to note that the number of affected individuals could be considerably higher than reported thus far, and the outbreak could extend beyond states with confirmed cases. Determining whether a person is part of an outbreak typically takes three to four weeks.
Typical symptoms of salmonella infection include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, with onset occurring between six hours to six days after consuming contaminated food. Generally, the illness lasts for four to seven days. However, individuals with vulnerable immune systems, such as children, adults above 65 years old, and those with weakened immune systems, may experience severe symptoms that require medical attention or hospitalization.