|As the result of the recent Listeria outbreak associated with the consumption of cantaloupe that has sickened residents of Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas, and has caused one death, we are again reminded of the risks associated with cantaloupes and other melons.|
The reason why melons like cantaloupe can present such a food safety issue, is that there are countless places along the supply chain where they may become contaminated. As Costa explains, hazardous points [begin] with growing and harvesting and continuing through packing, storage, transport, distribution, processing and final consumption.
Although, it seems hard to believe that contamination in the growing field could remain on the cantaloupes even after traveling thousands of miles to the grocery store, Costa reports that once contaminated, a cantaloupe will likely remain contaminated until reaching the consumer.
Unfortunately, the thick and rough rind of cantaloupes provides little protection to potential bacterial contamination. Scientists once thoughts that bacteria could only grow on the outer surfaces of cantaloupes; however, new research has shown that it is possible for some bacteria to, as Costa explains, actually penetrate the exterior of the melon, even when no bruising occurs.