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Salmonella risk in cantaloupes

POSTED: April 8, 2008 5:00 a.m.
State Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin is warning Georgia residents of a problem with some imported cantaloupes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an import alert regarding entry of cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, because, based on current information, fruit from this company appears to be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the United States and Canada.
The import alert advises FDA field offices that all cantaloupes shipped to the U.S. by this company are to be detained.
The FDA has contacted importers and is advising grocers, food service operators and produce processors to remove any cantaloupes from this company from their stock. Consumers who have recently bought cantaloupes should check with the place of purchase to determine if the fruit came from this company. If so, consumers should throw away the cantaloupes.  
The FDA has received reports of 50 illnesses in 16 states and nine illnesses in Canada linked to the consumption of cantaloupes.  No deaths have been reported.  However, 14 people have been hospitalized. The states that have reported illnesses are Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, Washington and Wisconsin.
The FDA is investigating this outbreak in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state partners.
Symptoms of foodborne Salmonella infection include nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps.  In persons with poor health or weakened immune systems, Salmonella can invade the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections.  Individuals who have recently eaten cantaloupe and experienced any of these symptoms should contact their health care professional.
“Our sanitarians will be looking for these cantaloupes during their inspections of grocery stores, food warehouses and food processors throughout Georgia to make sure they have been removed from sale,” said Commissioner Irvin.
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