A year after a deadly epidemic of bacteria in tainted cantaloupes killed at least 15 people, consumers are again doubting the safety of the summer melons.
A salmonella outbreak blamed on cantaloupes grown in Indiana has killed two people and sickened some 141 people in the past month, health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.
The outbreak, which began in early July, has struck consumers in Indiana, Kentucky and Minnesota. Officials are urging people to throw away cantaloupes bought recently from those areas.
Agricultural experts say the frequent problems with cantaloupes come from the nature of the melons and sloppy agricultural practices. The rough porous skin of the melon is an easy target for bacteria, which clings to the bumps on the surface.
It’s almost impossible for consumers to adequately wash cantaloupes at home, Douglas Powell, a professor of food safety at Kansas State University told USA Today. The knives used to cut cantaloupes transfer bacteria to the inside.
The illness caused by the food-borne organism can cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain. It can be fatal for the elderly, young children and people with weakened immune systems.