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Consumer Guide To
Cantaloupe Food Safety

Jim Prevor’s Perishable Pundit, March 28, 2008

With all this talk about cantaloupes and salmonella, we’ve been asked to provide some of our retail readers with information they can pass on to their customers regarding how to reduce the risk of such contamination on cantaloupes from any source.

Trevor SuslowFortunately food safety superstar Trevor Suslow, Extension Postharvest Specialist for the Department of Plant Sciences, UC Davis, has developed a handy piece entitled:

SALMONELLA AND CANTALOUPE:
WHAT CAN CONSUMERS REALLY DO?

Experience with overall consumption of cantaloupe purchased and prepared in the home should give consumers confidence in the safety of this nutritious and enjoyable fruit. Many improvements in food safety awareness and management have been put in place by domestic and international producers and shippers, particularly over the past three years, which are also providing a foundation for confidence in the supply of cantaloupes throughout the year. However, no one can guarantee an absolutely risk-free system for melons grown in an open environment despite the best of precautions and intentions.

Consumers have a precautionary role in food safety with cantaloupes and that involves adequate washing just prior to cutting for consumption and timely refrigeration of uneaten fruit. Washing and scrubbing under running tap water is all we recommend but some consumers are sufficiently concerned to use a variety of disinfectant treatments. These are challenging to perform in the home but may add a little extra benefit if done correctly.

Though we don’t advocate the necessity for these extra wash steps, for some the effort is worth the piece of mind that “what can be done has been done”.

The piece is quite comprehensive and you can download a copy here.

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