Tuesday, March 25, 2008

CANTALOUPES MAY BE CONTAMINATED

Cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano
May Be Contaminated with Salmonella

March 22, 2008 - The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is warning the public not to consume cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano, a Honduran grower and packer, because these cantaloupes appear to be associated with a Salmonella Litchfield outbreak in the Unites States and Canada.

The affected cantaloupes are known to have been distributed by:

  • Federated Co-Op in the provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, North Western Ontario, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon;
  • Canada Safeway stores in the province of British Columbia only.

However, it is possible that other distributers or retailers may have received cantaloupes from Agropecuaria Montelibano. The CFIA is continuing its investigation.

Consumers who have recently purchased whole cantaloupe or in-store products containing pieces of fresh cantaloupe are advised to check with their place of purchase to determine if the fruit came from this specific grower and packer.

To date US and Canadian authorities have received reports of nine illnesses in Canada in five provinces and 50 illnesses in 16 states in the US. In Canada, illnesses have been reported in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick between January 19, 2008 and February 22, 2008.

Food contaminated with Salmonella may not look or smell spoiled. Consumption of food contaminated with this bacteria may cause salmonellosis, a foodborne illness. In young children, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems, salmonellosis may cause serious and sometimes deadly infections. In otherwise healthy people, salmonellosis may cause short-term symptoms such as high fever, severe headache, vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Long-term complications may include severe arthritis.

Federated Co-Op, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and Canada Safeway Ltd., Calgary, Alberta, are voluntarily recalling the affected product from the marketplace. The CFIA is monitoring the effectiveness of the recall.

The CFIA recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce the risk of contracting Salmonella from cantaloupes:

  • Purchase cantaloupes that are not bruised or damaged.
  • When you purchase cut fruits and vegetables like cantaloupe, be sure that they are properly refrigerated.
  • After purchase, refrigerate cantaloupes promptly.
  • Before and after handling cantaloupe wash your hands thoroughly, for at least 20 seconds, with hot water and soap.
  • Before cutting fresh cantaloupe, thoroughly wash and brush the whole cantaloupe with running water using a clean produce brush.
  • Do not leave cut cantaloupe at room temperature for longer than two hours.

For more information, consumers and industry can call one of the following numbers:

Canada Safeway Limited at 1-800-SAFEWAY;
CFIA at 1-800-442-2342 / TTY 1-800-465-7735 (8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern time, Monday to Friday except on Monday March 24, 2008).

For information on Salmonella, visit the Food Facts web page at http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/causee.shtml.
Food Safety Facts for Cantaloupe http://www.inspection.gc.ca/english/fssa/concen/specif/cantae.shtml

For information on receiving recalls by e-mail, or for other food safety facts, visit our web site at www.inspection.gc.ca


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