Salmonella Outbreak does not Involve Indiana-Grown Melons

On Friday, April 12, the FDA and CDC announced an outbreak of Salmonella Carrau in pre-cut melon products distributed by Indianapolis-based Caito Foods. While an Indiana company has been implicated in the outbreak, the melon product used to create the pre-cut products were not from Indiana and were likely imported from outside of the United States. Indiana growers are currently preparing to plant Indiana’s 2019 cantaloupe and watermelon crops in Southwestern Indiana and other parts of the state. Growers are anticipating a safe, bountiful harvest.

Indiana melon growers take food safety very seriously and implement many on-farm practices aimed at reducing the risk of a foodborne pathogen contaminating the crop. “Indiana growers use a variety of practices that reduce the risk of contamination at the farm level. Among these are testing of irrigation water, use of sanitizers in wash water, and employee training programs”, said Scott Monroe, Food Safety Educator with Purdue Extension.

According to Dr. Amanda Deering, Clinical Assistant Professor in Purdue’s Department of Food Science, most Indiana watermelon and cantaloupe are produced on farms where food safety practices are confirmed by third-party audits. “Growers are audited annually to insure that they are implementing and maintaining aggressive food safety programs on their farms”, said Deering.  Deering also pointed out that in most cases, requirements of third-party audit schemes are more stringent than current FDA regulations.

“Our Indiana growers are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of on-farm contamination by a foodborne pathogen to the lowest level possible”, said Monroe. In spite of the recent outbreak in imported melons, watermelon and cantaloupe lovers across the state will be able purchase and enjoy Indiana melons with confidence once the 2019 crop is ready for harvest.

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