Chamberlain Farm Produce Inc. Recalls Watermelons – Update

Chamberlain Farm Produce, the Owensville, Indiana farm whose cantaloupes were blamed for 204 cases of Salmonella Typhimurium infections earlier this summer, has recalled all watermelons produced during the past growing season.

According to a Press Release posted last Friday on the website of Schnucks Markets, Inc., the recalled watermelons may have been contaminated with Salmonella newport. Notice of this recall has not yet appeared on the FDA website.

FDA inspected Chamberlain Farm Produce from August 14th to 16th, after traceback investigations identified the southwest Indiana melon grower as the likely source of the Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak. As part of the investigation, FDA collected environmental samples and cantaloupe samples from the farm. Some of those cantaloupe samples showed the presence of the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium.

On August 23rd, Chamberlain recalled all of its cantaloupes from the 2012 growing season. None of the retailers that carried the Chamberlain cantaloupes were identified in the recall notice. And, with the exception of Schnucks Markets, not a single retail grocery chain that carried the melons posted a recall notice on its website.

There is no indication whether any illnesses have been associated with the recalled watermelons. Nor do we know whether the contamination was discovered by FDA, the Indiana State Department of Health, Chamberlain itself, or some other party.

On August 16th, eFoodAlert learned from the Kentucky Department for Public Health that, in addition to cantaloupe samples, one watermelon sample had tested positive for Salmonella. At that time, detailed serotyping and genetic profiling of the Salmonella strain was still in progress. No further mention has been made of watermelon either in the CDC or the FDA investigation updates.

UPDATE (Sept 10, 2012): The Kentucky Department for Public Health has told eFoodAlert that there is “No connection that we know of” between the watermelon recall and the outbreak of Salmonella Typhimurium that was linked to cantaloupes from the same grower.

Let’s hope that FDA and Chamberlain are more forthcoming with retail distribution information on the watermelons that they have been on the cantaloupes.

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