September 14, 2012 — Indiana-based Chamberlain Farms, which was implicated in a deadly outbreak of salmonella food poisoning linked to cantaloupes, has announced a recall of watermelons that were also grown on the farm. The company also announced that they are working with state and federal health authorities to find the source of the outbreak. The company also issued a statement saying that no illnesses have been linked to the watermelons.
Chamberlain farms owner Tim Chamberlain announced the voluntary recall of watermelons after being informed that they had tested positive for salmonella contamination. “We are continuing to cooperate fully with authorities at the FDA and the Indiana State Department of Health to determine the full facts about the source of the salmonella found on our watermelon,” the statement said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that investigators found Salmonella on the watermelon. The strain of Salmonella was the same strain that caused illnesses in the cantaloupe outbreak. That outbreak has caused at least 204 confirmed food poisoning cases in 22 states, including 2 deaths and 78 hospitalizations.
The same strain of salmonella was also linked to an outbreak linked to live poultry, which sickened 163 people in 26 states.
The watermelons were sold in the grocery chain Schnucks, which announced that they have removed watermelons and cantaloupes from store shelves. Chamberlain Farms has not announced where the watermelons were distributed.
Watermelons are less likely to carry salmonella because of their smooth rinds. Cantaloupes are more susceptible because their bumpy, porous skin can easily store bacteria that is difficult or impossible to clean. Salmonella is transmitted to the interior of the melon when a customer uses a knife to slice it open.
The Salmonella bacteria causes salmonellosis, a severe type of gastrointestinal food poisoning. Symptoms typically include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, fever, headache, and muscle aches. In severe cases, the infection can cause dehydration, blood infections, and other complications. Healthy adults rarely die from the illness, but salmonella poisoning can be deadly for infants, the elderly, pregnant women, and people with a vulnerable immune system.
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