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Caito Foods again recalls pre-cut melon products

Items distributed to five retailers in 16 states may be contaminated with salmonella

In its second incidence within a year, SpartanNash Co. subsidiary Caito Foods has recalled fresh-cut melon products because of possible salmonella contamination.

Distributed in 16 states, the items were sold at Kroger, Target, Trader Joe’s, Walmart and Amazon/Whole Foods Market. The Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said they have begun an investigation of the voluntary recall, announced Friday by Indianapolis-based Caito.

The affected products, which may contain Salmonella Carrau, include pre-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and mixed fruit produced at its Indianapolis facility, Caito said. The items were distributed by Caito and Gordon Food Service with the label “Distributed by Caito Foods” and by SpartanNash under its Open Acres private label.

At retail, the fresh-cut melon products were sold by Kroger under the Renaissance Food Group and Boar's Head brands, Target under the Garden Highway label, Trader Joe’s under the Trader Joes brand, Walmart under a “Freshness Guaranteed” label and Amazon/Whole Foods under the Whole Foods Market brand, Caito reported.

As of April 12, the CDC said nine states — Alabama, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin — reported that 93 people have been infected with the strain of salmonella in question, and 23 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. The illnesses started between March 4 and March 31.

Caito Foods said it has temporarily suspended production and distribution of the affected products as the investigations continue. The items were packaged in clear, plastic clamshell containers and distributed in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Caito noted that the recall extends to both retailers and consumers because potentially contaminated product may still be on store shelves. As a result, the company is urging retailer and wholesale customers to check their inventories and shelves.

The FDA said it worked with CDC and state partners to trace the distribution of pre-cut melon mixes from patients back to Caito and is continuing its traceback investigation to find the specific source of the melons.

A rare strain, Salmonella Carrau has been historically seen in imported melons, and reports from Caito indicate that imported melons were used in the suspect pre-cut melon mixes, the FDA reported. The agency said its traceback is examining shipping records to try to determine a country of origin and, if possible, a farm of origin for the melons. FDA and Indiana authorities also are inspecting and collecting samples at the Caito processing facility where the melons were cut and packed.

In June 2018, Caito announced a voluntary recall of fresh-cut watermelon, honeydew melon, cantaloupe and mixed fruit products for possible contamination with Salmonella Adelaide. The recalled items, distributed in eight states, were sold at Costco, Jay C, Kroger, Payless, Owen’s, Sprouts, Trader Joe’s, Walgreens, Walmart and Whole Foods/Amazon. The FDA and CDC said their investigation indicated that pre-cut melon distributed by Caito was a likely source of the outbreak, which sickened 77 people and hospitalized 36. The outbreak was declared ended on July 26.

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