FDA names one source of cantaloupe in ongoing salmonella probe.


In continuing coverage, the Wall Street Journal (8/24, A2, Tomson, Subscription Publication) reports that the Food and Drug Administration announced it has identified the Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana, as one source of the salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe, which has thus far, resulted in two deaths and at least 176 people becoming ill. The Journal notes that the agency's investigation is ongoing and quotes the FDA as cautioning consumers in its announcement that “cutting, slicing and dicing may also transfer harmful bacteria from the fruit's surface to the fruit's flesh.”

The AP (8/24) reports FDA spokesperson Shelly Burgess “said Thursday that the investigation is still in its early stages and that it is too early to say whether all the contaminated fruit could be traced back to the farm.” Meanwhile, Tim Chamberlain, who “runs the 100-acre Chamberlain Farms, said it stopped producing and distributing cantaloupe on Aug. 16, when the FDA alerted him that the fruit could be tainted.” But Chamberlain “said he doesn't know what might have caused the contamination.” Chamberlain Farms' attorney John Broadhead said the establishment, which is “about 20 miles north of Evansville, sold cantaloupes to grocery stores in four southwestern Indiana counties and one in southeastern Illinois.” In addition, Broadhead said the “fruit also was sold to wholesale purchasers in St. Louis; Owensboro, Ky.; Peru, Ill., and Durant, Iowa.”

Mother sues Wal-Mart over children's salmonella illness. Bloomberg News (8/24, Armour, Harris) reports, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc. was sued by a Michigan mother who claims her two children contracted salmonella bacterial infections after eating cantaloupes bought at the company's Battle Creek store.” Angela Compton is “seeking at least $25,000 in damages from…Wal-Mart, according to a state court complaint she filed” Wednesday. But Wal-Mart spokesperson Randy Hargrove said cantaloupes sold at the company's “Battle Creek store did not come from the Indiana farm.” According to Hargrove's “colleague, Dianna Gee,” although the “company doesn't buy from the Owensville farm, one of its suppliers shipped a small quantity of cantaloupes from the farm to Wal-Mart stores outside Michigan.” However, Gee said those melons, which “comprised fewer than 1 percent of the cantaloupes sold by Wal-Mart, were identified and removed from the company's stores.”

Trucking company, cantaloupe grower share address. The Food Safety News (8/24, Flynn) says that in addition to farms and orchards, Federal investigators are also looking at the “fields, packing facilities and transportation used to grow, process and ship” the contaminated cantaloupes; and the “most vulnerable of these could well turn out to be the trucks” that transported the cantaloupes to retailers. According to Food Safety News, “Chamberlain Farms, shares an address – 5884 W 250 S, Owensville, IN 47665 – with Chamberlain Farm Produce Inc., an interstate carrier licensed (No. 777164) with the US Department of Transportation” to transport “fresh produce, grain, feed, and hay along with agricultural and farm supplies. Chamberlain Farm Produce Inc. owns 7 truck or tractor power units and employs 8 drivers.”