Cantaloupe (non)recall and chicken, more signs of a broken system

March 29, 2008

This cantaloupe recall has me a bit unnerved. I like cantaloupe. Last Monday I was at the Farmers Market eyeing a gigantic box of them marked at under a dollar a piece. In my mind that boiled down to a healthy, budget minded, tasty, breakfast, snack, or dessert. There was an older lady next to me commenting on how nice they were, especially for the price. But I had just read something that morning about cantaloupes being recalled. I couldn’t remember the exact details but after hesitating I told her I hoped they weren’t the ones recently found to be contaminated with salmonella. She put back her coveted cantaloupe. I felt bad. What if it’s not that big a deal? What if perfectly good cantaloupes get tossed aside or thrown out unnecessarily? It’s sad we have to wonder about cantaloupes at all.

Food recalls are happening on what seems to be a much too regular basis. If memory serves me we’ve had peanut butter, spinach, beef, pet food, sprouts, milk, more beef, more sprouts, pancake mix, cantaloupe, more cantaloupe and today Milford Valley, Dutch Farms and Kirkwood frozen, prepared chicken (go to: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/NR_032908_01/index.asp for more details.) Those are just the recent recalls that involve food and are widespread.

It isn’t bad enough that the food gets contaminated, somehow makes it through the system, and causes sickness and in some cases, death. It’s that we have this propagandized, false sense of assurance that some big government agency is actually on top of it. THEY AREN’T!

A week ago the FDA announced that cantaloupes imported from Agropecuaria Montelibano in Honduras may be contaminated with salmonella. At that point they had already documented that fifty people in 16 states had gotten sick after eating the melons, plus nine more people in Canada had gotten sick. They were kind enough to tell us that even though there had been no deaths so far (feel better now?), 14 people had been hospitalized (no biggie). Lest any of us forget, we’re living in the country with “the safest food system in the world,” a misused and abused agency talking point. No details on how many people may be hooked up to life support.

Chiquita Brands International, Inc. today (a week later) announced a voluntary recall of cantaloupes grown, packed and shipped by an independent third-party grower, none other than Agropecuaria Montelibano in Honduras. The product was distributed to customers nationwide and is being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with salmonella. Yesterday Dole came out with their same source recall. Gee, thanks for letting us know. Where the heck were you a week ago? Did you not know where your product was coming from? Did you think everything would be OK? Did someone have to twist your arm to finally issue a recall? I’m not feeling too warm and fuzzy about that Chiquita or Dole label anymore. It seems they all come from the same barrel or should I say field.

Today’s announcement says: “The cantaloupes were distributed for sale throughout the US and Canada in cardboard cartons with the brands “Mike’s Melons,” “Mayan Pride” and “Chiquita” all showing “PRODUCE OF HONDURAS” printed on each of the side panels of the carton.”

We can thank our trusty government for waiting for Dole and Chiquita to get around to issuing a recall (the government has no authority to make them). Heaven knows how many more people got sick this week. Hopefully there have been “no deaths so far.”

I’m glad that I had the sense to speak up to the lady in the store. I’m glad she didn’t buy the cantaloupe. Here’s how to sign up to get FDA recall notices. Go to: http://www.fda.gov/emaillist.html

It’s your hard earned taxes that are paying for this dis-service. Be informed. Speak up. Do something!

See also: Cantaloupes recalled after people sick and hospitalized

5 Responses to “Cantaloupe (non)recall and chicken, more signs of a broken system”

  1. valereee Says:

    You have Honduran cantaloupes at your farmers’ market? I’d question that market. Why are they allowing vendors to bring in nonseasonal stuff from Honduras?

  2. annierichardson Says:

    Hi Valeree,
    It’s not really a Farmers Market as in state Farmers Market. It’s more of an inner city type international market (they do call it a Farmers Market). It mostly caters to Asian and Hispanic clientele, has a lot of produce, much of it imported. Annie

  3. Tammy Says:

    Thanks for the link for the FDA notices! It’s a great thing to have, especially since it’s not something you would often look for…

    And also, even though it’s pretty bad that there ARE recalls, because that means that authorities have been slack in their monitoring, but I’d like to add that at least it’s good that they are tightening their grip now and with our economy in the state that it is in hopefully it’ll help people hop onto some good habits. Sorry that was probably an insanely convoluted sentence.

  4. annierichardson Says:

    Hi Tammy,

    You’re absolutely right and, you make perfect sense!
    Annie


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