Salmonella cases from contaminated cantaloupe continue to rise in Minnesota

Cantaloupe Recall
Cantaloupes are displayed for sale in Virginia in 2017. U.S. health officials have recalled several brands of whole and pre-cut cantaloupes due to a salmonella outbreak.
J. Scott Applewhite | AP file

Minnesota health officials say there are now 20 confirmed cases of salmonella in the state linked to contaminated cantaloupe — including two deaths.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration first issued a national recall of some brands of whole and pre-cut cantaloupe on Nov. 9; that recall has since been expanded.

The Minnesota Department of Health is working with the state Department of Agriculture, the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to investigate the outbreak.

“Currently we are still in the middle of the investigation trying to determine where people were exposed who became ill,” Carlota Medus, supervisor for MDH’s foodborne diseases unit, said late last week. “Were they exposed by the initial cantaloupe that was contaminated, or were they exposed and ate cantaloupe that was not the recall cantaloupe or was a cross-contamination event or some other situation?”

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Medus said she expects cases to increase.

“There is a delay in how long it takes for us to find out about cases, from the time that somebody gets tested, until it gets reported, until we get the lab data linking them to the outbreak,” Medus said. “The most recent cases we’ve seen are in mid-November and that will be consistent with the timing on when the cantaloupe was recalled.”

The recall includes Malichita and Rudy brand whole cantaloupes, and pre-cut cantaloupe sold under brands including Aldi, Kwik Trip, Trader Joe’s, Freshness Guaranteed, RaceTrac and Vinyard. Find the complete list and more details on the CDC website.

Alida Siebert with the state Department of Agriculture said that if someone became sick after eating cantaloupe, they should reach out to state health officials for possible follow-up. And, she said, “we’re telling consumers if they have sliced cantaloupe in their home and they’re not able to tell if it’s a recalled product, to just not eat it. That’s kind of the main message right now as we’re working through this investigation.”

Medus said not everyone who eats the recalled cantaloupe will become ill, but if they develop symptoms, they should contact their health care provider.

Nationwide, as of last Friday, the CDC reported the outbreak included at least 117 cases across 34 states.