Safety Alerts Saves Lives
Safety Alerts  
Home Privacy About Us Contact Us Change Preferences
spacer.gif (43 bytes)
October 28,  2002


(SafetyAlerts) - The Food Drug Administration (FDA) today issued an import alert on cantaloupes from Mexico because of insanitary conditions that have resulted in four Salmonellosis outbreaks in the last three years in the United States. These outbreaks were responsible for many illnesses including two deaths and at least 18 hospitalizations. This import alert recommends that officials detain without physical examination cantaloupe from Mexico offered for entry at all U.S. ports.

Investigations of Salmonella outbreaks between 2000 and 2002 showed insanitary conditions in the growing and packing of cantaloupe in Mexico. In addition, FDA sampling of imported produce found some samples of cantaloupe from most growing regions in Mexico tested positive for Salmonella. The samples were collected during both the fall/winter and spring/summer season. Today's import alert expands the prior import alerts that targeted specific shippers and growers whose products were linked to outbreaks or tested positive for Salmonella.

The FDA also announced today that it will continue to work with the Mexican government on a food safety program for production, packing and shipping of fresh cantaloupes. The Mexican government has proposed a certification program based on good agricultural practices and good manufacturing practices that would allow FDA to identify firms that have adopted and implemented such a food safety program. This certification program is still under development.

Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy persons infected with Salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis (an infection of the
lining of the heart) and arthritis.

FDA continues to recommend that consumers take the following steps with cantaloupe and other produce to reduce the risk of food borne illnesses:

Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged. If buying fresh cut produce, be sure it is refrigerated or surrounded by ice.
After purchase, put produce that needs refrigeration away promptly. (Fresh whole produce such as bananas and potatoes do not need refrigeration.) Fresh produce should be refrigerated within two hours of peeling or cutting. Leftover cut produce should be discarded if left at room temperature for more than two hours.
Wash hands often. Hands should be washed with hot soapy water before and after handling fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood, as well as after using the bathroom, changing diapers, or handling pets.
Wash all fresh fruits and vegetables with cool tap water immediately before eating. Don't use soap or detergents. Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. Cut away any bruised or damaged areas before eating.
Wash surfaces often. Cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and counter tops should be washed with hot soapy water and sanitized after coming in contact with fresh produce, or raw meat, poultry, or seafood. Sanitize after use with a solution of 1 teaspoon of chlorine bleach in one quart of water.
Don't cross contaminate. Use clean cutting boards and utensils when handling fresh produce. If possible, use one clean cutting board for fresh produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, and seafood. During food preparation, wash cutting boards, utensils or dishes that have come into contact with fresh produce, raw meat, poultry, or seafood.
Do not consume ice that has come in contact with fresh produce or other raw products.
Use a cooler with ice or use ice gel packs when transporting or storing perishable food outdoors, including cut fresh fruits and vegetables.


Source: FDA

Selected Recent Recalls

Health Professional:

Did you know?
During 2000 there were over
1050 products recalled in the United
States for safety reasons!

How many did you hear about?

Sign-up for SafetyAlerts by Email -
The free internet newsletter that could
some day literally save your life - or
the life of someone you know.


The information contained herein has been obtained from sources that the Company believes to be reliable, however, the Company has not independently verified or confirmed the information and the recipient acknowledges that no representations or warranties are being made in connection with the use of the information.