Saturday, June 22, 2024

Mexican cantaloupe processing plant shut down after deadly salmonella outbreak

Authorities have suspended operations at a cantaloupe processing plant in Sonora that is linked to deadly salmonella outbreaks in the United States and Canada.

Six deaths in Canada and four in the United States have been attributed to salmonella infections caused by the consumption of Mexican cantaloupes.

Over 300 people in the United States and more than 150 in Canada have become sick with the food-borne illness after eating contaminated cantaloupes.

The federal health regulator Cofepris said in a statement on Friday that U.S. and Canadian authorities notified it about the detection of salmonella in cantaloupe processed in Sonora.

Cofepris contacted Sonora health regulator Coesprisson and that agency conducted “two health verification visits to the processing company” in the city of Guaymas and ordered the “temporary suspension of activities” as a “safety measure.”

Agriculture sanitation authority Senasica took samples from surfaces and of water for testing, according to the statement.

Three images: a sliced cantaloupe and brand stickers reading Rudy and Malachita
The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) said Rudy and Malachita brand cantaloupes have been linked to the outbreak. (CDC)

Malachita and Rudy brand cantaloupes have been linked to the salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. and Canada, and authorities there have issued recalls of the fruit. Cantaloupes branded as such are grown in Sonora, one of Mexico’s leading producers of the fruit, and processed at the plant in Guaymas.

Batches of the cantaloupes have been returned to Mexico, Cofepris said, adding that it was carrying out actions to prevent contaminated products being sold on the local market.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) first announced a salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupes on Nov. 1. The agency has investigated infections in eight provinces including British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec.

Most of the people who have become sick with salmonella in Canada were aged under six or 65 or older, according to PHAC.

In the United States, 302 salmonella cases linked to Mexican cantaloupes had been detected in 42 states as of Friday, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Three of the four deaths occurred in Minnesota, while one person died in Oregon.

“CDC is concerned about this outbreak because the illnesses are severe and people in long-term care facilities and childcare centers have gotten sick,” the public health agency said in a food safety alert.

“Do not eat pre-cut cantaloupes if you don’t know whether Malichita or Rudy brand cantaloupes were used,” the CDC said.

With reports from El País, CBC and CNN

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