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Salmonella outbreak does not involve Indiana-grown melons

The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have announced an outbreak of Salmonella Carrau in pre-cut melon products distributed by Indianapolis-based Caito Foods.

While an Indiana company has been implicated in the outbreak, the melons used to create the pre-cut products were not from Indiana and were likely imported from outside of the United States. Indiana growers are currently preparing to plant Indiana’s 2019 cantaloupe and watermelon crops in Southwestern Indiana and other parts of the state. Growers are anticipating a safe, bountiful harvest.

Indiana melon growers take food safety seriously and implement many on-farm practices aimed at reducing the risk of a foodborne pathogen contaminating the crop, said Scott Monroe, a food safety educator with Purdue Extension.

“Indiana growers use a variety of practices that reduce the risk of contamination at the farm level. Among these are testing of irrigation water, use of sanitizers in wash water, and employee training programs,” Monroe said.

Most Indiana watermelon and cantaloupe are produced on farms where food safety practices are confirmed by third-party audits, said Amanda Deering, a clinical assistant professor in Purdue’s Department of Food Science.

“Growers are audited annually to ensure that they are implementing and maintaining aggressive food safety programs on their farms,” Deering said. 

Deering also pointed out that in most cases, requirements of third-party audit schemes are more stringent than current FDA regulations.

“Our Indiana growers are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of on-farm contamination by a foodborne pathogen to the lowest level possible,” Monroe said. 

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