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Salmonella outbreak gets melon at Walmart, Target, Whole Foods and other chains recalled


A salmonella outbreak that’s already sickened 93 people in nine states and hospitalized 23 has caused the recall of fresh cut melon sold at Walmart, Target, Amazon/Whole Foods, Kroger, Trader Joe’s and several independent grocers in 16 states.

Emails and website posts from the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced the outbreak and Caito Foods recall from 9:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday night.

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This is the second salmonella outbreak in a year linked to pre-cut melon from Indianapolis-based Caito Foods. The June 2018 outbreak sickened 77 people and hospitalized 36, a shockingly high 46.75 percent, over nine states. Salmonella sickens 1.2 million people a year, accroding to the CDC, but hospitalizes only 1.9 percent.

“Perhaps the scariest thing about this outbreak is that with a ready-to-eat product like fresh cut fruit, there’s no kill step,” said Houston-based food safety attorney Jory Lange, who filed suit against Caito Foods last summer and has filed done so again in this outbreak. “No one is going to be cooking their fruit before they eat it. So anyone who eats this fruit is going to be exposed to, and potentially infected with, salmonella.”

In the current outbreak, the recalled watermelon, honeydew and cantaloupe were sold in clear, plastic clamshells and sent to 16 states: North Carolina, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Cases have been identified in nine states, according to the CDC, but 80 of the cases are in the geographic cluster of Ohio (27), Michigan (19), Indiana (18) and Kentucky (16). Kentucky’s also dealing with an E. coli outbreak from ground beef.

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Within 12 hours to three days, salmonella brings fever, diarrhea, stomachaches, nausea and vomiting for four to seven days. Those under 5 years old, over 65 years old or with damaged immune systems are most vulnerable to the worse effects of salmonella. The fatality rate is very low: 0.04 percent.

Here’s a distribution breakdown, as from the FDA, which has made a concerted effort over the last several months at getting an affected store list out with the recall instead of long after (or not at all). For exactly which melon or melon combination was sold at each store, click here:

Amazon/Whole Foods — States involved: Illinois, Wisconsin. Brand sold under: Whole Foods Market Label. Best by/Use by dates: 4/19 (Friday) or before.

Independent grocers who bought from Caito Foods Distribution — States involved: North Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania. Brand sold under: Generic label that will say somewhere “Distributed by Caito Foods.” Best by/Use by dates: 4/18 (Thursday) or before.

Independent grocers who bought from SpartanNash Distribution — States involved: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan. Brand sold under: Open Acres. Best by/Use by dates: 4/18 (Thursday) or before.

Kroger — States involved: Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia. Brand sold under: Generic label that will say “Distributed by Renaissance Food Group.” Best by/Use by dates: 4/14 (Sunday) or before.

Target — States involved: Illinois. Brand sold under: Garden Highway. Best by/Use by dates: 4/18 (Thursday) or 4/19 (Friday) or before.

Trader Joes — States involved: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, Wisconsin. Brand sold under: Trader Joe’s. Best by/Use by dates: 4/19 (Friday) or before.

Walmart — States involved: Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Ohio, Michigan. Brand sold under: Freshness Guaranteed. Best by/Use by dates: 4/18 (Thursday) or before.

Consumers with questions can call 844-467-7278, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Eastern time, and Saturday and Sunday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Eastern time.

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