One person has died amid a salmonella outbreak linked to cantaloupe and other fresh fruit, according the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC).
An update from the federal agency on Friday indicates there have been 63 laboratory-confirmed cases of salmonella soahanina, sundsvall and oranienburg across the country. Quebec had the most cases with 35, British Columbia and Ontario each had 12, while Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador each had two.
Seventeen people were also hospitalized, as of the latest update on Nov. 24.
South of the border, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also said on Friday there were 99 people across 32 states who were infected. Minnesota reported two deaths, while 45 people have been hospitalized in the U.S.
Also on Nov. 24, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) expanded its recall list to include cantaloupes from the brand Rudy, on top of the initial Malichita-branded cantaloupes. The affected Malichita cantaloupes were sold between Oct. 11 and Nov. 14, while those from Rudy were sold between Oct. 10 and Nov. 24.
The updated recall list also notes these products were sold in all parts of Canada except for Saskatchewan and the territories, but they could've also been sold there.
"If you are unable to verify the brand of cantaloupe, or if your produce is part of the CFIA recalls, it is recommended to throw it out," the PHAC notes.
OUTBREAK UPDATE: Do not eat Malichita or Rudy brand #cantaloupe. These products are the likely source of 63 Salmonella illnesses in 5 provinces. An updated food recall warning has been issued.
Stay informed: https://t.co/XzP3qNvvLf pic.twitter.com/hwUp7ZwZQR
— Health Canada and PHAC (@GovCanHealth) November 25, 2023
A recall list last updated on Nov. 18 included a seven-page list of recalled products, including some brands of cantaloupe, honeydew melon, watermelon, pineapple and fresh fruit salads. The "best before" dates on the products range from Nov. 20 to Dec. 6.
The CFIA says it's continuing the investigation into the outbreak, and more products may be added to the recall list.
Fresh fruits are just one of many foods that are known to have been culprits of bacterial infections and food poisoning. Read on for everything you need to know.
Most common foods linked to salmonella infection
Raw and undercooked poultry, including chicken and turkey, is at high risk of salmonella infection. Experts note that breaded chicken products, like chicken nuggets, are also commonly linked to salmonella contamination because people assume they are already cooked when buying them and don’t prepare the nuggets properly.
Eggs are very sensitive to salmonella, and can make you sick if you eat them raw or undercooked.
“Typically the carriage in eggs is .001 per cent, but the problem is we eat eggs raw essentially, sunny side up and things like that. That’s the risk factor,” says Warriner.
Fruits and veggies
Fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, have been known to cause food poisoning when consumed raw.
“You can cook onions, but the problem is that often you use them for salads or guacamole and you don’t cook it so you are not killing [the bacteria],” notes Narvaez.
Experts say the main cause of contamination with produce happens through water sources used for irrigation.
Different kinds of raw sprouts, including alfalfa and mung bean, have been linked to salmonella poisoning. Sprouts require water and warm conditions for the seeds to germinate, which generates a really good environment for bacteria to grow.
Peanut butter is another food product that can be infected with salmonella before it even makes it to the processing plant. Peanuts are grown underground and can become contaminated through the manure that’s often used as fertilizer.
“Salmonella is really strong and persistent in a dry state,” explains Warriner.
Fish and shellfish can also become infected with salmonella, especially if they are being imported from places with a warmer climate. Properly cooking raw seafood is the best way to prevent getting food poisoning.
It's not you that can be harmed by salmonella. Experts say pet owners also need to be careful when buying pet food. Dry pet food like kibble is often heated at a high temperature that will kill off bacteria. Even so, Warriner says there have been cases where salmonella has been found in the flavourings that get mixed into the food after it’s been cooked.
How do I prevent salmonella infection?
Properly cook raw meat: When you’re cooking chicken or any kind of meat, make sure you cook it to the required internal temperature. A meat thermometer is a handy tool to ensure your meat is cooked and safe to eat.
Sanitation: Make sure you don’t cross-contaminate. Wash your cutting boards, cooking utensils and hands after handling raw meat products. It’s also not recommended to wash meat before cooking it.
Store food at the proper temperature: When you’re going shopping during the hot summer months, keep a cooler in your car to avoid having meat go bad.
Keep an eye on recalls: If you see a recall, check your pantry or fridge to make sure you don’t consume the product.
Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting and headaches.
If you have an item at home that’s been recalled you’re advised to throw it out or return it to the store where you bought it.