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WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration issued an alert Monday on cantaloupes imported from Mexico after four Salmonella outbreaks in the last three years were traced to the fruit. Two people died and 18 were hospitalized as a consequence of the bacterial infection.
The FDA recommended that customs officials halt the import of cantaloupe across the border after a two-year investigation found widespread unsanitary conditions in the growing and packaging of the melon. In a sampling of the produce, investigators detected Salmonella in cantaloupes from most regions where it is grown. An earlier warning targeted specific shippers and growers only.
The FDA said it would continue to work with the Mexican government on a food safety program for production, shipping and handling of fresh cantaloupes. The Mexican government is in the process of developing a certification program, which would allow the FDA to identify firms that have adopted the food safety standards.