Del Monte suit says FDA botched cantaloupe salmonella probe

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Del Monte says officials weren’t thorough in their investigation of an outbreak blamed on its imported melons. It wants an alert lifted.

Del Monte Fresh Produce has filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration, claiming it and public health officials weren’t thorough in their investigation of a salmonella outbreak blamed on the Florida company’s imported cantaloupes.

The company is also threatening to sue the Oregon Public Health Division and William Keene, the state agency’s senior epidemiologist, for their roles in collecting data and working with federal officials to help track down the source of the outbreak.

In March, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FDA found that cantaloupes from a Guatemala farm were connected to 12 cases of salmonella poisoning. The FDA later concluded that the cantaloupes were imported into the U.S. by Del Monte. As of June, 20 people had fallen ill from the outbreak of Salmonella Panama, including two people in California, according to the CDC.

In July, the FDA, concerned about contaminated fruit getting into the U.S. food system, issued an alert blocking the import of cantaloupes from Guatemala.

That cut off about 27% of the cantaloupe supply Del Monte imports into the U.S., according to the suit the company filed last week against the FDA in a Maryland federal court.

Del Monte claims in the suit that there was no physical sample that proved the Guatemalan cantaloupes were to blame, and the company asks that the alert be lifted.

To read the entire article, visit here>> Los Angeles Times | By P.J. Huffstutter

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