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FDA Refuses to Name Source of Cantaloupe Salmonella Outbreak

August 21, 2012 — Consumer advocates are calling on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to release the name of the southwest Indiana farm linked to a deadly cantaloupe salmonella outbreak. The FDA has refused to name the farm, because it voluntarily issued the recall. Naming the farm could potentially dissuade other farms from voluntarily testing their produce, contacting distributors, or informing the FDA of potential bacterial contamination. The cantaloupe salmonella outbreak has killed at least two people and sickened 141 others.

Nancy Donley, a spokeswoman for the food safety advocacy group STOP Foodborne Illness, disagrees with the FDA’s decision to withhold the name of the farm. “We want every bit of information possible,” she said. “We are very concerned that the health and welfare of businesses can be put at higher priority than that of the public health and safety.”

Indiana Health Commissioner Gregory Larkin said, “We do not have a definitive source for this outbreak.” Another spokesperson, Amy Reel, said they are not releasing the name of the farm because “We don’t want to narrow the public’s focus when there could be multiple sources.” The health officials say they are withholding the name of the farm because the recall was not mandated, and they are continuing to investigate the source of the outbreak.

Indiana is the fifth-largest producer of cantaloupe in the United States. Growers earned nearly $6.2 million from cantaloupe in 2010, with about 2,300 acres harvested that year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most of the fields are located in the southwestern part of Indiana, which is where the salmonella outbreak originated.

Some blame sloppy agricultural practices for the outbreak, others blame the inherent nature of cantaloupes. The melon’s porous, bumpy skin is difficult to clean and a reservoir for dirt and bacteria. Cantaloupes are grown on the ground, and they can easily pick up bacteria if farmers are not prudent about segregating produce from livestock fields. Run-off from livestock fields can also contaminate cantaloupe fields and spread the bacteria. When a consumer purchases a cantaloupe, slicing it with a knife can transfer the bacteria to the inner flesh of the melon.

The salmonella outbreak has affected at least 20 states, with Kentucky the hardest-hit. Both of the deaths occurred in Kentucky, as well as dozens of confirmed illnesses.

Most healthy adults recover from salmonella food poisoning (salmonellosis) within a week, after suffering severe vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, headache, and other unpleasant symptoms. Salmonellosis can be deadly, however, especially for young children, the elderly, people with a weak immune system, or pregnant women.

Do I have a Cantaloupe Food Poisoning Lawsuit?

The Schmidt Firm, PLLC is currently accepting cantaloupe salmonella induced injury cases in all 50 states. If you or somebody you know has been injured by cantaloupe salmonella food poisoning, you should contact our lawyers immediately for a free case consultation. Please use the form below to contact our Food Poisoning Litigation Group or call toll free 24 hours a day at (866) 920-0753.

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