Rockmelon safety hard to grasp

Contrary to what Australians are being told, cantaloupe – er, rockmelon – is a known source of foodborne illness and many scientists have investigated the many ways nasty bacteria get on or in the melon; along with potential treatments.

red.dirt.melonsIn this paper, researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture report surface structure and biochemical characteristics of bacteria and produce play a major role in how and where bacteria attach, complicating decontamination treatments.

Whole cantaloupe rind surfaces were inoculated with Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and Listeria monocytogenes at 107 CFU/ml. Average population size of Salmonella, Escherichia coli O157:H7, and L. monocytogenes recovered after surface inoculation was 4.8 ± 0.12, 5.1 ± 0.14, and 3.6 ± 0.13 log CFU/cm2, respectively. Inoculated melons were stored at 5 and 22°C for 7 days before washing treatment interventions. Intervention treatments used were (i) water (H2O) at 22°C, (ii) H2O at 80°C, (iii) 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) at 22°C, and (iv) a combination of 3% H2O2 and H2O at 80°C for 300 s. The strength of pathogen attachment (SR value) at days 0, 3, and 7 of storage was determined, and then the efficacy of the intervention treatments to detach, kill, and reduce transfer of bacteria to fresh-cut pieces during fresh-cut preparation was investigated. Populations of E. coliO157:H7 attached to the rind surface at significantly higher levels (P < 0.05) than Salmonella and L. monocytogenes, but Salmonella exhibited the strongest attachment (SR value) at all days tested. Washing with 3% H2O2 alone led to significant reduction (P < 0.05) of bacteria and caused some changes in bacterial cell morphology. A combination treatment with H2O and 3% H2O2 at 8°C led to an average 4-log reduction of bacterial pathogens, and no bacterial pathogens were detected in fresh-cut pieces prepared from this combination treatment, including enriched fresh-cut samples.

The results of this study indicate that the microbial safety of fresh-cut pieces from treated cantaloupes was improved at day 6 of storage at 5°C and day 3 of storage at 10°C.

Effect of hydrogen peroxide in combination with minimal thermal treatment for reducing bacterial populations on cantaloupe rind surfaces and transfer to fresh cut pieces


Ukuku, Dike O.1; Mukhopadhyay, Sudarsan2; Geveke, David2; Olanya, Modesto2; Niemira, Brendan2

1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA;, Email: 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, 600 East Mermaid Lane, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA

Journal of Food Protection, August 2016, Number 8, Pages 1316-1324, DOI:

97 sick: Australian NT rockmelons test positive for Salmonella

Red Dirt rockmelons in Australia’s Northern Territories, have tested positive for Salmonella, at least 97 people are sick across Australia, two major supermarkets are proclaiming their produce safe – in the absence of any supporting data — so the New South Wales Food Authority decided to tweet this morning, “Beware! Food poisoning can come from any food that isn’t handled correctly.”

Cantaloupe-listeria-outbreakIt’s an animation, stunningly void of content.

And while it’s maybe part of a general campaign, because the majority of the 97 sick with Salmonella-in-rockmelon are based in NSW, maybe the food types have better things to do.

I’m not sure what is the right way to handle cantaloupe is, other than prevention – irrigation water, shit in the soil, dumptank cleanliness (if they are used) and employee sanitation – yet the regulators seem to have come up with their own version of blame-the-consumer (although once it’s cut, refrigerate immediately).

But that’s normal for outbreaks in Australia.

Soon, everyone will go back to sleep.

The only way to have more microbiological safety in foods is to demand it – through media coverage, social media, and marketing food safety, backed up with data.

Instead, all any growers are saying is, it wasn’t us, so please believe us when we tell you it is safe.

Show consumers the data.

Back it up with something other than platitutes.

And don’t fall for the organic, local sustainable, natural and gmo-free nonsense that has nothing to do with the things in food that make people barf.

awkward-yeti-food-poisoning1The Australian Melon Association said the outbreak had now been contained.

“All rockmelons from the affected farm have been removed from supermarket and greengrocer shelves nationwide,” a statement released today said.

“The grower is working with the Northern Territory Health Department to review its operations and will not resupply the market until the all-clear has been given.

Woolworths and Coles have removed all Red Dirt rockmelons from their stores and suspended further orders while health authorities investigate the matter.

A spokesman for Woolworths said only 2.5 per cent of the supermarket’s rockmelon supply nationwide was from the affected farm.

“Customers can continue to purchase alternatively sourced rockmelons from Woolworths with confidence,” he said.

A Coles spokesman said Red Dirt supplied their stores in all states and territories with the exception of Tasmania and Western Australia.

I’m sorry that innocent growers are going to lose sales, but Salmonella and Listeria in rockmelon is nothing new. The best way to manage a crisis is to be prepared.

And don’t depend on associations or government or retailers to do anything other than a meaningless-Bill-Clinton-I-share-your-pain.

They will all still be employed when this moves on.

A table of cantaloupe-related outbreaks is available at It will be updated soon.

Name change? 86 sick with Salmonella from Red Dirt Melons in Australia

Sorenne had scooter day today at school.

It’s all part of the active lifestyle thingy the school does – and our school is really good at it, because driving just doesn’t makes sense for the locals – but Sorenne’s scooter has seen better days and now she’s an avid bike rider.

cantaloupe.salmonellaShe still got a sausage on white bread – breakfast of champions – and some fruit for her efforts.

The fruit this morning consisted of watermelon and orange slices. I asked the co-ordinator if she considered rockmelon — otherwise known as cantaloupe – and she said, I did last week, but then just didn’t.

And then I heard the news last night.

Food safety Doug, who ruins all the fun for the other kids, gave her a big thumbs up.

Later today, it was confirmed that at least 86 people in Australia have contracted an “exceedingly rare” form of salmonella linked to the consumption of rockmelon.

Red Dirt Melons – a Northern Territories-based supplier – is recalling its rockmelons after Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) launched an investigation into a spike in salmonella cases in a number of Australian states. 

Whole rockmelons, as well as pre-sliced melons, can carry the bacteria, and should be avoided, health authorities said. 

There have been 86 reported cases of Salmonella Hvittingfoss (S. Hittingfoss) nationally – 43 cases in NSW – in the two weeks to August 1.

It’s a sizeable jump compared to the two cases per month on average in NSW over the last five years.

The people affected by the recent outbreak range in ages, but 49 per cent of cases in NSW were children under five years old.

Victorian authorities are investigating eight suspected cases of salmonella poisoning that may be linked to the fruit.

Red Dirt Melons have begun a recall of their rockmelons after the Salmonella bacteria was detected by health authorities in South Australia on August 2.

Woolworths removed all Red Dirt rockmelons from its stores on Monday evening when they were told of the possible link, a spokesman for the supermarket giant said.

The chain has also suspended any future supply from Red Dirt until the food authorities provide further guidance.

Rockmelons could become contaminated with salmonella due to water contamination, contact with fertiliser, pests or animals, or if the rockmelons were not cleaned properly before sale, The NSW Food Authority said.

Rockmelons have been linked to salmonella poisonings in the past, including in the US in the 1950s, 1960s and in 2002.

The Hvittingfoss strain turned up in Sydney and Adelaide in the past few weeks, according to the Australian Melon Association. Food Standards Australia New Zealand says authorities are investigating and has warned pregnant woman, infants and the elderly not to eat the fruit.

Industry, state and federal authorities are expected to discuss the issue in a teleconference on Wednesday afternoon.

“We want more details so consumers can find out which parts of Australia are not impacted,” melon association spokeswoman Dianne Fullelove told AAP.

“We would like to have our supply chain moving. At the moment it’s virtually stopped.”

Nicevmessage of safety and compassion.

The fruit has previously been linked to salmonella, with 50 cases linked to the Saintpaul strain reported in NSW in 2006. In America in 2011, rockmelon contaminated with listeria was linked to more than 20 deaths (33 – dp).

This chart of Salmonella-in-cantaloupe outbreaks will be updated in the next couple of days. Cantaloupe Related Outbreaks


Salmonella possibly linked to rockmelon in Australia

Rockmelon — otherwise known as cantaloupe – may be behind an increase of Salmonella in several Australian states.

Cantaloupe-listeria-outbreakFood Standards Australian New Zealand said Tuesday that, “While we wait for further information, the best advice is that consumers, especially infants, the elderly, pregnant women or people with compromised immune systems, should not consume rockmelon.”

What made Listeria in 2011 cantaloupe outbreak so deadly?

In the fall of 2011, listeria-in-cantaloupe killed 33 people and sickened 147 in the U.S. Fault was found with the growers, the packing shed and dump tank where cantaloupes were washed before being shipped, and a porous food safety audit process.

cantaloupe.handBut was there something about the strains of Listeria involved that made this outbreak particularly deadly?

The 2011 listeriosis outbreak attributed to whole cantaloupe involved several genetically distinct strains of serotypes 1/2a and 1/2b that had not been previously reported in invasive listeriosis outbreaks.

Here we investigated the potential of strains from the 2011 cantaloupe outbreak to adhere, survive, and grow on cantaloupe rind and flesh and in juice extracted from cantaloupe at different temperatures (4, 8, and 25°C). All strains were able to adhere and grow, with ∼10-fold increases after 7 days at 4 or 8°C and after 24 h at 25°C, with a propensity for more growth on rind than on flesh or in extract. No significant differences in growth potential were noted among the different strains or between them and unrelated strains from other listeriosis outbreaks involving celery, deli meats, or hot dogs. Similarly to the cantaloupe outbreak strains, these other strains exhibited greater propensity for growth on rind than on flesh or in extract. Rinsing of cantaloupe fragments in sterile water resulted in temporary reductions of the populations by 50- to 100-fold, suggesting the potential of such washing to reduce risk if the produce is promptly consumed.

The absence of marked differences in adherence or growth between the cantaloupe outbreak strains and strains from other outbreaks highlights the need to further characterize the 2011 cantaloupe outbreak strains and elucidate potential biological attributes that contributed to their implication in the outbreak.

Capacity of Listeria monocytogenes strains from the 2011 cantaloupe outbreak to adhere, survive, and grow on cantaloupe

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 5, May 2016, pp. 696-889, pp. 757-763(7)

Martinez, Mira Rakic; Osborne, Jason; Jayeola, Victor Oladimeji; Katic, Vera; Kathariou, Sophia

Listeria in cantaloupes triggers recall at Georgia store

BI-LO, LLC, today announced an immediate recall for one BI-LO store in Glennville, GA (#5744) for fresh products containing cantaloupe, because they have the potential to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes.

list.cantaloupe.mar.16The address of the affected store is:
Store #5744
312 S. Veterans Blvd. 
Glennville, GA 30427

No other BI-LO stores are affected by this recall.

The recall is in response to a positive test of Listeria monocytogenes from a sample taken by the Georgia Department of Agriculture, from a medium-sized container of cantaloupe chunks, as communicated to BI-LO on Feb. 29, 2016.

The product is marked on the scale label as “BI-LO Cantaloupe Chunks Medium,” in medium plastic bowls with a lid, and had a sell-by date of 2/24/16.

Out of an abundance of caution, all BI-LO brand products containing fresh cantaloupe with a sell-by date of 2/24/16, are also being recalled at this store as follows:

Cantaloupe Chunks (sizes medium and large) in plastic bowl with lid

Cantaloupe Halves in Styrofoam trays wrapped in clear plastic

Cantaloupe Slices in Styrofoam trays wrapped in clear plastic

Mixed Melon Chunks (sizes medium and large) in plastic bowl with lid

Mixed Fruit Bowl (sizes medium and large) in plastic bowl with lid

Fruit Tray Cantaloupe in plastic tray with lid

They ain’t growing cantaloupes in Vancouver in Feb.

Freshpoint Vancouver, Ltd. is recalling Del Monte and Sysco Imperial Fresh brand cantaloupes from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume and retailers, hotels, restaurants and institutions should not sell, serve or use the recalled products described below.

cantaloupe.salmonellaConsumers who are unsure if they have the affected cantaloupes are advised to check with their retailer.

Recalled products

Brand Name Common Name Size Code(s) on Product UPC
Del Monte Cantaloupe 1 count Sold up to and including February 18, 2016 PLU 4050
Del Monte Cantaloupe (case) 12 count Lot 360012 None
Sysco Imperial Fresh Cantaloupe 3 count Lot 127 12 035 5 None

Check to see if you have recalled products in your home. Recalled products should be thrown out or returned to the store where they were purchased.

This recall was triggered by Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) test results. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing recalled product from the marketplace.


There have been no reported illnesses associated with the consumption of these products.

Give the gift of poop

Shitexpress will deliver a steamy pile of horse crap with a personalized message to your enemies — or twisted friends.

organic-manure1The Hong Kong-based service launched in November 2014 as a marketing experiment and has stuck around like dog doo on a sneaker tread.

“Yes, it’s legit,” CEO Peter (no last name) told The Huffington Post. 

Peter says his firm earned $10,000 in its first month and has made more than 2,500 shipments. Take note, scatological Santas: Orders cost $16.95 for shipping to many places around the world, and can be done anonymously.

Listeria be out there: FDA reports on cantaloupe safety inspections

Coral Beach of The Packer reports that after inspecting 17 operations, federal officials say that fresh cantaloupe packinghouses are generally following good agriculture practices even though tests at nine of the companies showed listeria contamination.

cantaloupe.handThe inspections by the Food and Drug Administration were part of the agency’s follow-up efforts after a 2011 cantaloupe-related listeria monocytogenes outbreak that sickened more than 150 nationwide and killed more than 30.

“FDA’s 2013 cantaloupe packinghouse (investigation) was intended to further inform FDA of current cantaloupe packinghouse operating practices and conditions and provide data on the expected prevalence of listeria monocytogenes in and on cantaloupes and within packinghouses’ food and non-food contact surfaces during packing, handling and storage,” according to a July 27 report from consumer safety officer Michael Mahovic, who works with the agency’s division of produce safety.

For the review, FDA only inspected “firms that pack fresh cantaloupe in a packinghouse,” according to the report. “Processing facilities, growing fields, cantaloupe that are ‘field-packed’ and firms that do not handle cantaloupe were considered out of scope.”

Initially, FDA identified 50 firms in 18 states for review, but some of those companies were no longer in business and others turned out to be distributors, not packers. The remaining 17 firms that met the review criteria received notice 24 hours before inspectors arrived.

The agency collected environmental and product samples before and after packing and used a standardized questionnaire tailored for cantaloupe packinghouses to collect information and observations about each firm, according to the report.

All 17 firms had food safety plans and all reported they were aware of the 2011 listeria outbreak and that they “took some action to evaluate or bolster their own operations, from re-evaluating their own food safety plans, to completely refitting their buildings,” according to the report.

Eight firms did not have any positive listeria test results. One had pathogenic listeria present and the other eight tested positive for non-pathogenic listeria.

“Such findings do, however, suggest the potential for (pathogenic) listeria monocytogenes to be present,” according to the report.

Cleaner cantaloupes: Sanitizers for rock melon

For health reasons, people are consuming fresh-cut fruits with or without minimal processing and, thereby, exposing themselves to the risk of foodborne illness if such fruits are contaminated with bacterial pathogens.

cantaloupe.salmonellaThis study investigated survival and growth parameters of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, and aerobic mesophilic bacteria transferred from cantaloupe rind surfaces to fresh-cut pieces during fresh-cut preparation. All human bacterial pathogens inoculated on cantaloupe rind surfaces averaged ∼4.8 log CFU/cm2, and the populations transferred to fresh-cut pieces before washing treatments ranged from 3 to 3.5 log CFU/g for all pathogens. A nisin-based sanitizer developed in our laboratory and chlorinated water at 1,000 mg/liter were evaluated for effectiveness in minimizing transfer of bacterial populations from cantaloupe rind surface to fresh-cut pieces. Inoculated and uninoculated cantaloupes were washed for 5 min before fresh-cut preparation and storage of fresh-cut pieces at 5 and 10°C for 15 days and at 22°C for 24 h. In fresh-cut pieces from cantaloupe washed with chlorinated water, only Salmonella was found (0.9 log CFU/g), whereas E. coli O157:H7 and L. monocytogenes were positive only by enrichment.

The nisin-based sanitizer prevented transfer of human bacteria from melon rind surfaces to fresh-cut pieces, and the populations in fresh-cut pieces were below detection even by enrichment. Storage temperature affected survival and the growth rate for each type of bacteria on fresh-cut cantaloupe. Specific growth rates of E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and L. monocytogenes in fresh-cut pieces were similar, whereas the aerobic mesophilic bacteria grew 60 to 80 % faster and had shorter lag phases.

 Efficacy of Sanitizer Treatments on Survival and Growth Parameters of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes on Fresh-Cut Pieces of Cantaloupe during Storage

Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2015, pp. 1250-1419

Ukuku, Dike O., Huang, Lihan, Sommers, Andchristopher