Outbreak linked to Chamberlain Farms cantaloupe - The Packer

Outbreak linked to Chamberlain Farms cantaloupe

08/22/2012 11:09:00 PM
Coral Beach

CDC outbreak mapCourtesy CDCThese states are confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as being involved in the cantaloupe-related salmonella outbreak as of Aug. 23.The number of ill persons identified in each state is: Alabama (13), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (3), Illinois (21), Indiana (18), Iowa (7), Kentucky (56), Massachusetts (2), Michigan (6), Minnesota (4), Mississippi (5), Missouri (12), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (3), Ohio (4), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (4).

Legal action began hours before recall

Hours before Chamberlain Farms was named as the grower of the suspect cantaloupe from Southwest Indiana a Michigan mother filed a civil suit against Wal-Mart because her two minor daughters are victims of the outbreak.

The suit filed in Michigan's state court seeks financial damages for the Battle Creek, Mich., mother and her children. She bought cantaloupe at a Battle Creek Wal-Mart on July 12 and her children became sick within three days of eating it.

Seattle attorney and food safety advocate Bill Marler is handling the lawsuit against Wal-Mart for the Michigan mother. He also represents dozens of victims and victims' families who are suing Jensen Farms, Holly, Colo., in relation to the 2011 listeria outbreak linked to Jensen cantaloupes.

The Michigan mother's lawsuit mentions that Wal-Mart pulled all cantaloupe from Southwest Indiana. Several grocers took similar precautions, including Schnucks Markets, St. Louis, and Kroger Co., Cincinnatti.

Impact on cantaloupe industry

Local media reports from across Southern Indiana in the days before Chamberlain Farms was named described frustrated cantaloupe growers whose customers stopped buying their fruit.

Dan Egel, a plant pathologist at Purdue University and treasurer of the Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Association, said Aug. 21 some growers had abandoned melons in their fields.

“One grower I spoke with has already plowed them under,” Egel said. “Others are saying they won’t plant any next year. One man had $15,000 worth in his cooler and he said he was just going to throw them out because no one wants to buy from the area.”

Egel said in his 17 years in the region the number of small cantaloupe growers has declined.

“It used to be if you grew watermelon you also grew a few acres of cantaloupe. That has changed,” Egel said. “Retailers started asking for the melons to be washed and then they started wanting them to be pre-cooled. ... That kind of equipment costs money that smaller growers just don’t have.”

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Doctor P    
California  |  August, 23, 2012 at 08:03 PM

It looks like locally grown turned out to be a very bad choice this time. Were these grown organically like the deadly outbreak last year that killed 35 people?

Birmingham, AL  |  August, 24, 2012 at 07:59 AM

I want to know about the seeds; are they GMO or not, then lets talk fertilizers and pest control or even cross contamination from nearby farms. These are the questions. I can find no search results on any of these questions in regard to the cantelope. Seems odd right?

Florida  |  August, 24, 2012 at 08:24 AM

I want to know what their irrigation source is. I found their address, but google maps can't seem to pinpoint the exact location. The general area of their farm is pretty much in the middle of nowhere. There might be some streams or retention ponds nearby, so those may be their water source. If they are not decontaminating the water, then that would be a likely source of bacteria. SO MANY farms are spraying pond/retention/reclaimed/canal water on their crops with ZERO decontamination! Unless you have a fresh water well that has been demonstrated to be free from any bacteria, you better be decontaminating your irrigation/spray water!

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, Kan.  |  August, 24, 2012 at 08:53 AM

Lori, They are not GM cantaloupe. There is no GM cantaloupe on the market, and GM fruits/vegetables are extremely rare. The Packer doesn't mention this in our coverage is because it is not an issue in this case. As for fertilizers/pesticides, I've never heard of their use leading to the presence of salmonella or other pathogens. The FDA and the grower have not said anything about the possibility of the salmonella originating from any other location. Chris Koger News Editor

Clinton  |  August, 24, 2012 at 09:41 AM

I'm at a loss at to why The Packer and the news media plastered Burch Farms all over everywhere immediately after finding the one cantaloupe and they didn't even release Chamberlain Farms name until a week later after several people were DEAD and over 100 in the hospital. Makes you scratch your head and wonder who is pushing this.

Chris Koger    
Lenexa, Kan.  |  August, 24, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Anon, Please pull up any story from The Packer or other news media that was written before late Aug. 22. As they all state, the FDA would not release the name of the grower. The Packer posted a story naming Chamberlain Farms within the hour of FDA releasing it late Aug. 22. This was less than a week after the initial report of the outbreak. According to the FDA, the name was withheld while the investigation continued. It's safe to assume that the FDA decided to wait until it was 100% certain Chamberlain was a source of the salmonella. The agency continues to investigate whether there are other sources. Publishing the name of a company before we have FDA confirmation would be reckless. Chris Koger News Editor

Chavez Chavez    
CA  |  August, 24, 2012 at 11:05 PM

I just ate cantaloupe all week and it was delicious. I will buy more soon to support these poor cantaloupe growers. People's immune systems arent what they used to be.

Desert Hot Springs, CA  |  August, 25, 2012 at 12:24 AM

There is no, nor has there ever been, any GMO melons brought to market in the United States. The melons you buys today are hybrids, not GMO. Hybrids are bred by means of cross-pollination, whereas GMO is created in a lab setting and involved modifying gene strands. You can see for yourself at gmo-compass.org where they have a database of all GMO currently being grown and sold.

Don Engebretson    
Minneapolis  |  August, 25, 2012 at 08:27 PM

The question is, organically grown or not? Jumping to conclusions about GMO possibilities is not realistic. Salmonella is nearly always from organic manure fertilizers. The question I cannot discover is, Were they organically grown??? That's where you most often run into the salmonella problems.

August, 28, 2012 at 07:48 AM

The outbreak last year was from a conventional farm, not organic.

Ohio  |  October, 10, 2012 at 10:10 PM

Thats incorrect. Last years outbreak was at Jensen Fams near Holly, Colorado, a certified organic farm. The worst outbreak in US history in which 30 people died!! No one has identified the field or linked the illness to a organic field, but you can draw you own conclusions given Jensen is an organic farm and uses organic procedures and organic products for fertilizers, as their spokeswoman openly admitted.

Wyoming  |  December, 13, 2012 at 01:31 AM

You are both wrong, Jensen Farms was on transitional ground. Essentially everything was being treated organically. A grower must "transition" the ground for 3 years before the comoodity grown in that ground can market as organic. Most of the commentors here seem to not have much of a grasp on produce production . . . ..

Lisa Gunn    
montrose colorado  |  October, 22, 2013 at 02:43 PM

maybe should get all the story and if his neighbors had a green permit like the epa or montrose county gives out green permits,find out how much water and land his deeds of trust will be selling and if caldwell banker realestate is near

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