The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recalled several brands of whole and pre-cut cantaloupes last month, after more than 100 people were sickened and two died from an ongoing salmonella outbreak.
As of Tuesday, the CDC reported 117 cases from 34 states, and 61 people have been hospitalized. At least two people have died in Minnesota, according to the CDC. Here's the information about the outbreak you need to know to stay safe.
What brands are affected?
Recalled whole cantaloupes from the following brands:
- Vinyard Fruit and Vegetable Company: Cantaloupe Chunks and Cubes and Fruit Mixes and Medleys Containing Cantaloupe
- CF Dallas, LLC: Fresh cut fruit products
- Kwik Trip: Fruit cups and trays containing cantaloupe
- Bix Produce: Fruit cups containing cantaloupe
GHGA, LLC: Fruit cups and trays containing cantaloupe
ALDI pre-cut fruit products: Cantaloupe, cut cantaloupe and pineapple spears in clamshell packaging with best-by dates between Oct. 27 and Oct. 31.
RaceTrac brand pre-cut cantaloupes.
Labels of "Malichita," “Rudy,” “4050” and “Product of Mexico/produit du Mexique”
The FDA suggests checking its full recall list before purchasing or eating cantaloupe products.
Are contaminated cantaloupes on LI?
According to the CDC, there were between one and three reported cases in New York. Stores such as ALDI, Vinyards and select Walmart locations have been linked to contaminated cantaloupe. Consumers, restaurants and retailers should throw away recalled fresh or cut cantaloupe that was frozen for later use, the FDA said.
States with cases are: Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.
How does salmonella make you sick?
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, infectious disease specialist at North Shore University Hospital, said salmonella is a type of bacteria that most often causes a "nuisance infection," but can be severe for children under 5, the elderly or those with a weakened immune system.
Symptoms of salmonella illness can take 2-3 days after consumption to appear, and include severe diarrhea, abdominal pain, high fever and "very rarely" bloodstream infections in which a person can develop sepsis and infection of different parts of the body.
The illness will subside after 4-7 days, according to the FDA. Hirsch said symptoms can last for weeks if you are immunocompromised.
How is cantaloupe contaminated?
Hirsch said that cantaloupe likely contracted salmonella in one of two ways.
First, cantaloupe can become contaminated if it is grown in proximity to livestock. Animals carrying germs into water can contaminate nearby fields where produce is grown.
Second, a cantaloupe can be contaminated if the blade used for pre-cut slices has bacteria.
"If that blade touches the surface of one cantaloupe, there's the potential of contaminating all produce," Hirsch said.
Unfortunately, a contaminated cantaloupe can appear to be a perfectly good product.
"It can be the greatest cantaloupe of all time," he said. "Two or three days later, you're sitting on the toilet."
I ate recalled cantaloupe. What should I do if I feel sick?
If you believe you consumed recalled or contaminated cantaloupe, be sure to report it to the FDA.
If you have a normal immune system, don't panic. Symptoms should go away in a matter of days, so a trip to the emergency room is likely not necessary.
But if you are vulnerable, be sure to contact your primary doctor, as they "know you" and "know your weakened immune system," Hirsch said.
If someone is immunocompromised and they report feeling confused or are "not really" themselves, then it is worth a trip to the emergency room.
"Those are all the dangerous signals in a vulnerable person, and should be brought to the emergency room promptly, to get treatment right away so that they're able to get better faster," Hirsch said.