(For updated coverage, please see UPDATED: Chamberlain Farms recalls cantaloupe linked to outbreak) Health officials continue to investigate the source a multi-state salmonella outbreak that’s been linked to cantaloupes from Southwest Indiana.
The name of the grower suspected in the outbreak, first reported by federal and state agencies on Aug. 17, had not been released as of Aug. 21.
Twenty states are involved. Two deaths and 141 illnesses have been linked to the outbreak.
Officials with the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and several state health departments said Aug. 17 that the grower voluntarily withdrew cantaloupes from the stream of commerce and notified customers of the potential contamination.
Courtesy CDCKentucky has been hardest hit in the current salmonella outbreak with 50 illnesses and two deaths. The Kentucky Health Department reported the salmonella strain matched salmonella found on cantaloupes from a grower in southwest Indiana. As of Aug. 21, the Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had not updated warnings posted on their websites Aug. 17.
An FDA spokeswoman, Shelly Burgess, said the agency won’t release the grower’s name because the investigation is ongoing. Lab tests confirmed the grower’s cantaloupes have the same strain of salmonella as found in the victims.
“We are still investigating the source of the contamination,” Burgess said Aug. 20. “Since there is a grower who has voluntarily withdrawn product, there is cooperation and therefore no mandatory recall.”
Kentucky officials were the first to reveal the connection between the cantaloupe from southwest Indiana and the salmonella in a consumer warning Aug. 17. The two deaths were in Kentucky.
“It is odd that the FDA is not naming the farm nor naming what grocery stores sold the cantaloupe,” said Bill Marler, a Seattle attorney who specializes in food safety litigation. He is representing dozens of victims in a 2011 listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe from Jensen Farms in Holly, Colo.
“It is great that state health departments give us the numbers, but why not the name of the farm where the cantaloupes were grown, and more importantly, what grocery stores they were sold at.”
FDA’s Burgess said the agency is working on a list of retailers, but as of Aug. 21 it was not yet available.
Courtesy CDCThe Salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe from southwest Indiana that began in early July could continue to generate new cases because of the incubation period for infections related to the pathogen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Iowa, six people are confirmed to be sick from the specific strain of salmonella as found in the southwest Indiana cantaloupe. But Iowa’s medical director for the Department of Health, Patricia Quinlisk, said that doesn’t necessarily mean the cantaloupe from southwest Indiana are the cause.