Unsanitary conditions outlined in Indiana cantaloupe outbreak

A report released by the FDA shows that inspectors reported a variety of sources of contamination when they inspected Chamberlain Farms Produce, Inc., of Owensville, Ind., in August.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists Chamberlain Farms as the source of cantaloupe infected with salmonella that sickened a total of 270 people in 26 states. Of those, 101 had to be hospitalized. Three died in Kentucky.

Inspectors who visited the farm tested cantaloupe still growing in the fields and from a cardboard bin after processing in the packing shed and found nine of 100 environmental swabs tested positive for salmonella.

The report also outlined a series of unsanitary conditions, including:

-Porous food contact surfaces including carpet and wood used throughout the cantaloupe processing line, which does not allow for adequate cleaning, according to inspectors, who also described “apparent rust and corrosion on multiple pieces of equipment throughout the processing line."

-Multiple locations on the conveyor, including rollers and belts, with black, green and brown buildup. “There was an accumulation of debris including trash, wood, food pieces, standing water, mud, dirt and green buildup observed beneath the conveyor belt in the cantaloupe packing shed” that could attract animals and rodents, the report stated.

-Standing water that appeared to have algae in it on the floor in the packing shed directly below the conveyor belts of the packing line and on the drip table below the conveyor where cantaloupes were being washed and rinsed.

-A processing water line built in a way that doesn’t prevent food contamination and that had rusty water coming into direct contact with cantaloupe traveling along the processing line.

-No apparent monitoring of levels of chlorine sanitizer in the water in the concrete dump tank of the cantaloupe processing line.

Originally posted Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012

Tags: cantaloupe outbreak, fda, food safety, recall