Canadian Food Inspection Agency finds no pathogens in cantaloupe tests

September 6, 2012, Ottawa: As part of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency's (CFIA) routine testing of various food products, a study was released today that found 100% of cantaloupes tested did not contain Salmonella or Shigella and were safe for human consumption. No follow-up activities were needed.

The CFIA analyzed 1,207 domestic and imported cantaloupe samples collected from Canadian retail stores. They included 895 samples from domestic and imported whole cantaloupes and 312 from imported fresh-cut, ready-to-eat cantaloupes. Because neither Salmonella nor Shigella was detected, all samples were classified as "satisfactory".

Salmonella and Shigella bacteria can cause salmonellosis and shigellosis respectively, two foodborne illnesses in humans. Either of these pathogens can contaminate cantaloupes at various stages of their production if not handled properly. Cantaloupes are difficult to clean due to their rough surface and provide ideal conditions for bacterial growth.

When pathogens, such as Salmonella and Shigella, are detected, Health Canada completes an assessment to determine if the pathogen poses a health risk, based on the contaminant's level, expected frequency of exposure and contribution to overall diet. These factors help determine whether further action is needed, up to and including product seizure and/or recall. If a human health risk is found, a public recall is issued immediately.

The CFIA has continued testing cantaloupes for pathogens to ensure they remain safe for Canadian consumers.

Further information on this survey report is available on the CFIA website.

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Canadian Food Inspection Agency
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