Wednesday, November 22, 2023 by Olivia Cook
Eight confirmed cases of salmonella infection have been documented in the Canadian province of British Columbia, all linked to cantaloupes imported from Mexico.
In a Nov. 15 statement, the British Columbia Center for Disease Control (BCCDC) and regional health authorities warned the public not to consume, distribute, serve or use any whole or pre-cut cantaloupes sold under the label Malichita. As per genetic sequencing, most of the illnesses detected to date were caused by the rare S. soahanina strain – also called S. sundsvall – found in the contaminated melons.
Since mid-November, there have been eight salmonella cases confirmed in the Fraser Health, Island Health and Vancouver Coastal Health regions in British Columbia – affecting people aged less than a year to 68. Affected residents experienced symptoms typical of salmonellosis, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting. Dehydration was also observed in infants.
Public health investigation of the cases showed a link to the Malichita cantaloupes reportedly imported from Mexico, sold to Fruits et Legumes Gaetan Bono and distributed to the following areas:
British Columbians were advised to immediately dispose of Malichita cantaloupes that were sold from Oct. 11 to Nov. 14, or return them to the location where they were purchased. Further guidance provided by the BCCDC and regional health authorities included the following:
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also declared an outbreak of salmonella days after Canadian officials reported the eight confirmed cases in British Columbia. Just like the outbreak in Canada, the American outbreak has been traced to Malichita brand cantaloupes imported from Mexico. In the U.S., the outbreak was spread across 15 states, with 43 confirmed salmonellosis cases – with at least 17 people requiring hospitalization.
Sofia Produce, LLC of Nogales, Arizona, which does business under the name Trufresh, has performed a product recall after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency determined that additional imported cantaloupes from Mexico have possible salmonella contamination.
According to the company’s recall announcement, the cantaloupes were packed in cardboard containers bearing the Malichita label. The containers were distributed between Oct. 16 and 23 in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration noted that the contaminated cantaloupes may have reached consumers through retail produce markets located in states other than those previously identified. Buyers who have purchased the recalled products were instructed to dispose of them and retain their records of disposal.
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Watch this video about a similar salmonellosis outbreak also caused by contaminated cantaloupes.
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