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FDA to Initiate Study of Pathogen Contamination in Cantaloupe


The FDA will collect and assay 240 samples of cut cantaloupe to determine the possible presence of Listeria and Salmonella.  The initiative follows the 2011 Listeria outbreak responsible for 147 diagnosed cases with 143 hospitalizations and 33 fatalities.  Since this time, cantaloupe has been associated with isolated cases of salmonellosis and listeriosis.


Samples will be obtained from precut and packaged cantaloupe as delivered to schools, hospitals, and supermarkets.  It is presumed that surface contamination is introduced into the flesh of melons during processing as with meat and fish products.  Sampling melons at point of delivery will indicate the level of contamination.


A more comprehensive study from field through harvesting, washing, packaging, and also further processing is required if the FDA is to fully understand the dynamics of infection.  Determining rates of contamination would simply be used as a justification for standards or regulations.  What is required is a set of proven effective measures to reduce infection including a positive kill-step.