The first lawsuit has been filed in the ongoing cantaloupe Salmonella outbreak. To date, Salmonella Tymphimurium poisoning has been reported in at least 21 states and has been associated with 178 illnesses, 62 hospitalizations, and two deaths. Both deaths were reported from Kentucky.
In this first lawsuit, a Michigan woman has filed a lawsuit against Walmart for selling the cantaloupe, said IndyStar.com. According to Angela Compton of Battle Creek, Michigan, who purchased three cantaloupes on July 12 from her local Walmart, the fruit sickened both her children who were hospitalized and tested positive for the Salmonella pathogen. The lawsuit was filed in Calhoun County Circuit Court in Michigan.
According to IndyStar.com, Walmart told Bloomberg.com that it had begun contacting its outlets late last week to remove cantaloupe grown in southwestern Indiana.
Yesterday, we wrote that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) identified the cantaloupe farm believed to be the possible origin of the ongoing Salmonella outbreak and announced a recall of the involved produce. Tim Chamberlain of Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana, said he voluntarily stopped production on August 16, adding that he has had no other issues at the farm since it opened in 1982, said the Associated Press (AP). The agency advised Chamberlain Farms on August 16 that his cantaloupes posed a potential health risk. According to Chamberlain, he is not aware of the what caused the outbreak and said his farm is waiting further instruction from government agencies.
FDA spokeswoman Shelly Burgess told the AP that Chamberlain Farms may not be the only outbreak source, adding that the investigation is ongoing. FDA’s Coordinated Outbreak Response and Evaluation (CORE) network is collaborating with FDA field offices, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and state and local agencies to determine if other possible sources of contamination exist.
The FDA warns consumers against eating the recalled cantaloupe, to discard any cantaloupe from Chamberlain Farms, and to speak to their retailers to determine if their cantaloupe was grown on the Owensville, Indiana farm. Current records indicate that Chamberlain Farms’ cantaloupe was initially shipped to Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin; further shipment was likely.
Officials from the FDA, the CDC, and the state of Indiana recently briefed Chamberlain Farms on the status of the investigation; Chamberlain Farms then issued a recall of its cantaloupe from the market following its decision to withdraw the fruit from the market and to stop distributing cantaloupes for the remainder of the growing season.
The CDC said that early results of antibiotic susceptibility testing indicate that the strain of Salmonella Typhimurium connected to this outbreak is susceptible to commonly used antibiotics and said no links exist between this outbreak and last year’s multi-state outbreak of Listeriosis connected with Jensen Farms’ whole cantaloupes.
If consumers believe they are in possession of the recalled cantaloupe, they are advised against washing Salmonella off of the fruit; Salmonella may be on both the skin and inside of the cantaloupe and cutting, slicing, and dicing the fruit may transfer harmful bacteria from the surface of the cantaloupe into its flesh.