It seems like we're always hearing about food poisoning outbreaks in the news, and the past week has been no exception.
Over 200 people from more than 20 states, including Pennsylvania, have been sickened with Salmonella after they ate contaminated cantaloupes. At least 78 victims have been hospitalized, and two have died.
The Salmonella outbreak began early in July, and health officials have finally identified a farm in Southwestern Indiana as the source of the contamination. The states affected thus far include:
The Food and Drug Administration has told grocery stores to throw away any cantaloupes that they received from Indiana, and the farm has voluntarily withdrawn its cantaloupes. However, if you have bought the fruit and aren't sure where it came from, it's best to throw it away.
Salmonella is one of the most common types of food poisoning in the United States. In fact, just last year tainted cantaloupes were responsible for killing 30 people. Salmonella outbreaks are commonly connected with various types of melons, but cantaloupes – with their porous skins – are especially vulnerable to bacteria. Other foods and drinks that can become contaminated include eggs, meat, poultry, unpasteurized dairy products, spices, nuts, alfalfa sprouts, and more.
Symptoms of Salmonella food poisoning usually occur within 12-72 hours after infection and can last from 4-7 days. They include:
Food poisoning can be very serious – even for those who consider themselves to be healthy. I encourage everyone to keep up with food recalls and news about outbreaks. Plus, always follow these food safety tips to help prevent food poisoning.
If you believe you've become a victim of Salmonella poisoning, get to a doctor or hospital immediately, and be sure to request testing to confirm that you do indeed have food poisoning. Keep the food you believe made you sick (in this case it may be cantaloupe), place it in a plastic bag, and put it in the refrigerator. That way you can have it tested for the bacteria. If you become seriously ill, you may have a food poisoning case and be eligible to receive compensation for your medical bills and any lost wages from missing work.