Now that the cantaloupe season is underway, I want to remind everyone to wash their rinds thoroughly under running water before cutting into them. The rough skin of this favorite summer fruit is susceptible to bacterial contamination, and washing will reduce that considerably.
The FDA has announced it is inspecting all cantaloupe growing operations in the U.S. this year in the wake of recent outbreaks that have caused illness and deaths across many states. But much cantaloupe is grown in Mexico and other countries, where inspection may not take place. To be on the safe side, wash your cantaloupes! Also, to avoid cross-contamination, wipe off the surfaces that the cantaloupe touched before you washed it, such as the kitchen counter.
Last year, Salmonella from cantaloupes grown in Indiana was linked to two deaths in Kentucky and more than 170 illnesses in 21 states. In 2011, Listeria linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado caused 33 deaths across 28 states.
As a matter of routine, you should be washing all your raw fruits and vegetables under running water before you cut into them, and using a separate cutting board for cutting up raw meat. This simple precaution could save you and your family from a nasty bug. Here’s to a safe summer!