Thursday, September 29, 2011

Do Not Try To Wash The Cantaloupe

The listeria outbreak from cantaloupes has caused at least 72 illnesses and up to 16 deaths so far. Those numbers are expected to rise since the time it takes to show symptoms can be a month or longer. Can you imagine trying to recall what you ate a month ago?

I know listeria by its connection with hot dogs and deli meats. Never heard it linked to produce. An unusual feature is that it grows well in the cold temperatures that impede the growth of other organisms.

As usual, Bill Marler has been furiously updating. This pronouncement from his blog this morning deserves attention:
"And, for the argument that the sick and dead should have washed away the listeria, the FDA advises consumers not to eat the recalled cantaloupes and to throw them away. In Fact, the FDA says:
Do not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe. Cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit’s surface to the fruit’s flesh."
Photo of workers in field of rotting cantaloupes on Jensen Farm in Colorado, from the Guardian.


Dr. Mel said...

Bix, I thought of you the MOMENT I heard about this, as you were right all those years ago when you first talked about trying to wash canteloupe. I've never forgotten that!

Perovskia said...

Thanks for posting this. I brought it up to a co-worker at work tonight before she opened one (from California). Told the supervisor on duty; sure enough, she found something on a website she looked at.

What I want to know is, if the FDA new about it, why weren't they turned away at the border??

Shreela said...

Ditto what Dr. Mel said!

Bix said...

@Perovskia, I don't know what testing Canada does, but it's apparent not much testing is done on farms here in the US.

Bix said...

My inclination is to wash. But if it's on the inside, what can you do?

virginia said...

yes, i also thought of your earlier cantaloupe post when the announcement was made . i heard the news in the morning, turned in my rental car, then picked up a sandwich at an airport restaurant. it was served with a melon salad, and i just picked around the cantaloupe (knowing full well that would not make a difference if it was contaminated).

it's been a month, so i think i'm okay.