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An unidentified farm in southwestern Indiana is pulling cantaloupe from the marketplace following a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that thus far has been linked to two deaths and 141 illnesses in 20 states.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in cooperation with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and state/local health authorities, have identified the number of ill people in each state as follows: Alabama (7), Arkansas (3), California (2), Georgia (1), Illinois (17), Indiana (13), Iowa (7), Kentucky (50), Michigan (6), Minnesota (3), Missouri (9), Mississippi (2), New Jersey (1), North Carolina (3), Ohio (3), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (3), Tennessee (6), Texas (1), and Wisconsin (2).
The first illnesses associated with this outbreak were reported July 7, and public health officials as of this writing have not released the name of the farm in question.
FDA has already conducted an on-site inspection, including taking environmental and product samples, and is expected to release the identity of the farm once lab analysis is complete. Additionally, the farm that is apparently responsible for the outbreak has initiated a withdrawal of the cantaloupes from the distributor, but a recall has not yet been issued.
Meanwhile, food safety attorney William Marler is calling on the CDC and FDA to identify the grower(s), wholesalers, distributors and retailers involved in ongoing cantaloupe outbreak “in the interest of public health.”
In a statement, foodborne illness attorney and food safety advocate William Marler of the law firm Marler Clark said with 141 sick and at least two people dead, “The public has an absolute right to know where the cantaloupe was grown and where is was sold. There is simply no excuse that this information is not made available,” said Marler, noting: “If the goal of public health is to saves lives, protect people, and save business money through prevention, how does trying to keep the public in the dark accomplish any of these objectives?
“By keeping these companies’ names secret,” Marler continued, “the CDC and FDA may be trying to protect businesses, but are ultimately doing the public a disservice by quashing important data that could otherwise help consumers make informed decisions about what to eat and where to shop.”