Monday, March 24, 2008

How To Handle A Melon

First off, do not eat any cantaloupe imported from a particular farmer in Honduras. The FDA said on Saturday that it may be responsible for the salmonella infection of 50 people in 16 states:

FDA Warns of Salmonella Risk with Cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano, March 22, 2008

How do you know if the melon on your plate came from this grower? The FDA says to ask store employees, street vendors, wait staff, or others who offered it to you for sale if it originated with Agropecuaria Montelibano. Truly.

Even if your cantaloupe wasn't imported from Honduras, the FDA offers these guidelines for reducing the risk of bacterial infection from cantaloupes - a melon notorious for spreading pathogenic microorganisms given its sticky webbed surface.
  • Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh-cut cantaloupe, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
  • After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.
  • Wash hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling fresh cantaloupes.
  • Scrub whole cantaloupes by using a clean produce brush and cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents.
  • Use clean cutting surfaces and utensils when cutting cantaloupes. Wash cutting boards, countertops, dishes, and utensils with hot water and soap between the preparation of raw meat, poultry, or seafood and the preparation of cantaloupe.
  • If there happens to be a bruised or damaged area on a cantaloupe, cut away those parts before eating it.
  • Leftover cut cantaloupe should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing cantaloupes outdoors.
Don't use soap or detergents? Why is that? How about those Veggie Washes that have a picture of a cantaloupe on their label? Not a good idea?

How has it become that slicing a melon makes me feel like I'm taking my life into my hands? Was it always this way?

Okay, I'll only use water. Except if I live in Alamosa, Colorado.

Update: See my post, More On Cleaning Cantaloupe, for more on cleaning cantaloupe.

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