( File photo )

The number of people with salmonella linked to fresh-cut melons shipped by Caito Foods has increased, and the Food and Drug Administration has released a list of hundreds of retail outlets that received the products.

The exact source of the imported melons, however, has not been released, and the FDA continues its traceback investigation.

The FDA expanded the list of private-label brands in the outbreak, which was first reported by the FDA on April 12. In its first update on the outbreak, the FDA on April 24 posted the locations of almost 1,500 retail locations that received the fresh-cut cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon products from Caito Foods, Indianapolis.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported April 24 that the number of people who have become ill has risen from 93 to 117 in 10 states. PulseNet, a national network that allows health and regulatory agencies to identify outbreaks, first alerted the CDC about the outbreak on April 2.

The CDC reported illness onset dates range from March 4 to April 8. No deaths have been reported; 32 people have been hospitalized, according to the CDC.

The type of salmonella in the outbreak, Salmonella Carrau, is rare, historically seen in imported melons. Caito Foods told investigators the melons used in the products were imported, according to the FDA.

Retailers and associated labels in the recall, according to the FDA’s update, are:

  • Kroger, Renaissance Food Group label;
  • Kroger, Boar's Head private label;
  • Target, Garden Highway label;
  • Trader Joe’s, Trader Joe’s label;
  • Walmart, Freshness Guaranteed label; and
  • Amazon/Whole Foods, Whole Foods Market label.

The FDA and Indiana authorities continue to inspect the Caito Foods facility where the melons were processed and packed. That includes collecting samples for analysis. The agency is also examining shipping records to pinpoint the source of the melons.

According to the CDC’s update on the outbreak, 46 of those who fell ill reported eating fresh-cut melons from grocery stores. Five also reported eating pre-cut melons “outside the home,” according to the CDC.

Retailers told investigators their supplier was Caito Foods, and the company recalled all melon products from the facility on April 12.

Caito Foods was linked to a similar outbreak in 2018 involving Salmonella Adelaide in fresh-cut melon products.

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