Can Cantaloupe Kill?

By Kaia Ryden on May 3, 2024 

The answer is: yes! It may sound crazy, but recent news has broken that cantaloupe-linked salmonella has killed 8 people and caused over 400 illnesses in the US and Canada. 

In a food safety alert posted in January, the CDC recalled pre-cut cantaloupes from 

U.S. brands such as Crown Jewels, TruFresh, and Canadian brands such as Rudy and Malichita. Before you start to worry, the outbreak has ended, and cantaloupe is safe to eat again, for now. Unfortunately, cantaloupe-induced illness is not uncommon. But here is the question: How did salmonella get on the cantaloupes in the first place? 

Cantaloupe is very susceptible to being contaminated. In this case, one of the bigger possibilities is through the soil. Salmonella is found in animal intestines, and therefore can be found in feces, which is commonly used as a fertilizer for crops. The salmonella may have contaminated the soil in which the cantaloupe was growing, which left the virus on the fruit’s rind, later to seep into the fruit itself. 

Another reason cantaloupe is easy to contaminate is because its textured skin can trap bacteria easily, so if you don’t clean the rind very well before cutting into it, any bacteria that is found on the outside of the melon will infect the inside. A way to prevent this is to properly store and handle the melon until you are ready to eat it, and then make sure to clean the outside as well as possible.  

While many organizations are looking for a surefire way to prevent these kinds of illnesses from infecting fruits, nothing concrete has been found yet. The best bet for a clean melon is to make sure that the environment that it grows in is clean, but even then, there are uncontrollable factors.                                                    

In conclusion, be careful when picking what fruits to eat and be sure to know what to do to properly prepare them. Keep your eyes open for recall alerts. You never know when the CDC is going to recall your lunch! 


Affairs, O. of R. (2023). 2023 Recalls of Food Products Associated with Cantaloupes due to the Potential Risk of Salmonella. FDA. 

BOWEN, A., FRY, A., RICHARDS, G., & BEAUCHAT, L. (2005). Infections associated with cantaloupe consumption: a public health concern. Epidemiology and Infection, 134(4), 675–685.