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Chamberlain Farms named as source of Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak

By Joe Whitworth , 23-Aug-2012
Last updated on 23-Aug-2012 at 12:51 GMT

Chamberlain Farms has been named as the source of the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium from cantaloupes that has killed two and sickened nearly 200 people in 21 states.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) pinpointed the cantaloupes grown on the Indiana farm as the likely source of the outbreak.

The collaborative investigation, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and public health officials in several states, is continuing to determine whether there are other possible sources.

Statewide illness

The CDC reported 178 people had been infected with the outbreak strain from 21 states. Nationwide, 62 people have been hospitalized and two deaths reported in Kentucky.

The FDA said records indicate that the product was initially shipped to Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Tennessee, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin, although further shipment was likely.

Kentucky has been the worst hit by the outbreak to date with 50 cases of illness reported.

Chamberlain Farms has withdrawn its cantaloupes from the market and said it will cease distribution for the rest of the season.

Delay in naming source

The administration come under fire after refusing to name the source of the outbreak despite building public pressure.

The FDA said it refrained from naming the source earlier as it needed to “feel absolutely confident they know what caused the outbreak.”

Consumers who are buying or have recently bought cantaloupe should ask their retailers if the cantaloupe was grown on Chamberlain Farms of Owensville, Indiana,” said a FDA statement.  

“The FDA warns consumers not to eat this cantaloupe, and if they have purchased it, they should throw it away. 

“If consumers believe they have cantaloupe from this farm, they should not try to wash the harmful bacteria off the cantaloupe as contamination may be both on the inside and outside of the cantaloupe.”

Earlier, US media reported Barbara Kowalcyk, chief executive officer of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention, said it was crucial to get information to the public "in a timely manner."

"When you have people who are getting sick and hospitalized and even dying, in my opinion as a consumer advocate, that takes precedence.

"You need to give people the information they need to make informed decisions for their families."

Indiana health officials have issued an advisory telling residents to discard any cantaloupes grown in south western Indiana bought on or before 7 July.

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