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Recall On Cantaloupes Leaves Vallonia Farm Hurting

Last updated on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

(VALLONIA) - A statewide recall on cantaloupes due to an outbreak of salmonella will leave an estimated 160,000 cantaloupes unable to be sold at Kamman’s Farms south of Vallonia.

The scare involving Hoosier-grown cantaloupes has wrecked prospects of any more sales this year for local growers.

Mark Kammon of Kamman's Farms says Walmart has canceled their loads along with Krogers and everybody else. Nobody is taking Indiana cantaloupe. Jackson County Health Officer Dr. Kenneth Bobb says so far no cases of salmonella related to cantaloupes have been reported in Jackson County.

A recall of Indiana cantaloupe went into effect over the weekend, with the Indiana State Board of Health reporting an investigation into salmonella traced to cantaloupes that has sickened 14 people in Indiana and 150 nationwide.Two people in Kentucky have died from the illness.

"When somebody dies from a product, I certainly understand the concern," Kamman said. " We certainly don't want anyone to die from anything we grow."

Haley Oliver, food microbiologist at the Center for Food Safety Engineering at Purdue University says salmonella does not move by itself from melon to melon. She says it has to move through water or through contact with a surface or soil that's already contaminated, such as manure that has not properly composed being used as fertilizer.

Kamman has pulled cantaloupes from his produce market along State Road 135 and has stopped harvesting the remainder of his crop, about one- third of which was left to be picked. He estimated losses at about 25 semitrailer loads, or about 160,000 cantaloupes.

Another Vallonia grower, Tim Tiemeyer, doesn't expect much of a loss from the recall.

" Fortunately, we're just about done with cantaloupes, so it's probably not going to affect us much at all," he said.

Kamman's cantaloupe crop was late this year because of early hot and dry weather. He estimated he's picked just 66 percent of the crop.

Kamman says the cantaloupe season for Indiana is done, regardless of when the recall might be lifted. Now he will focus on his watermelon harvest.

This is the second year the cantaloupe market has been affected by salmonella outbreaks. Cantaloupe grown in Colorado was the suspected source of last year's infections.

The Indiana State Department of Health says it is investigating southwestern Indiana farms, distributors and retailers as potential sources of the outbreak.

It also is investigating retailers and other points along the distribution chain.

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