(For additional information, please see "Cantaloupe growers frestrated; guidelines expected soon")
The owners of Chamberlain Farms, as well as some federal officials, say media reports have not accurately reflected some of their statements about the ongoing 21-state salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe from the Owensville, Ind., farm.
Tim Chamberlain told The Packer that he “doesn’t know for sure” if his cantaloupe is the source of salmonella that has sickened 147 people and contributed to the deaths of two Kentuckians. Some media reported Chamberlain had told them his cantaloupe were not contaminated.
“I haven’t told anybody that my melons were ‘not the source’ — I said I didn’t know,” Chamberlain said Aug. 24. “I don’t know anything yet. We are still waiting on test results from FDA.”
Shelly Burgess, a spokeswoman for the Food and Drug Administration, said Aug. 24 “we do not have an ETA yet on the test results.”
Burgess also said the agency is advising consumers to not eat cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms. Some media reports said the FDA has warned against all Indiana cantaloupes, but Burgess said Chamberlain Farm cantaloupes are the only ones the agency has identified.
The FDA is continuing its work on a list of specific distributors and retailers who received Chamberlain’s cantaloupes, but was not ready to release it as of mid-day Aug. 24. Burgess said only some of the Chamberlain cantaloupes had identifying stickers, but some did not. She referred other traceability questions to the farm.
Neither the FDA nor Chamberlain has information on how many cantaloupes were shipped from June 21 to Aug. 16. Chamberlain voluntarily started withdrawing his cantaloupes Aug. 16 after health officials contacted him about the possibility they were contaminated with salmonella.
Chamberlain said the cantaloupes did not have any lot numbers when he shipped them to retailers and wholesalers in southwest Indiana and southern Illinois. He said the farm does not have a test-and-hold policy.
FDA officials continue to investigate the outbreak with the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Notices from both agencies stress that there may be more than one source of the salmonella, but they did not provide details about what the other sources could be.