7 dead, more than 160 cases confirmed in cantaloupe salmonella outbreak — what you should know

The Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting another death related to the salmonella outbreak involving cantaloupes.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Contact a qualified medical professional before engaging in any physical activity, or making any changes to your diet, medication or lifestyle.

Another person has died in the salmonella outbreak involving cantaloupes, according to the federal government. (Photo via Getty Images)
Another person has died in the salmonella outbreak involving cantaloupes, according to the federal government. (Photo via Getty Images)

Another person in Canada has died amid a salmonella outbreak involving cantaloupes, bringing the total number of deaths up to seven, according to the federal government.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) announced the news on Friday, noting there have now been 164 lab-confirmed cases of salmonella across eight provinces. Quebec has seen the most number of cases, with a total of 111. The other provinces that have reported cases include British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Sixty-one people have been hospitalized, and the majority of people who have become sick include children aged five and younger, as well as adults aged 65 and above. Many of the people who have fell ill are living in a long-term care home, retirement residence, assisted living facility or attending daycare.

The outbreak involves cantaloupes sold by the brands Rudy and Malichita, as well as any products — like ready-to-eat fruit trays — made with cantaloupes from those brands. Cantaloupes from those brands were sold between Oct. 10 and Nov. 24, the PHAC indicated. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) began issuing recall warnings for the cantaloupes on Nov. 1.

"If you are unable to verify the brand of cantaloupe, or if your produce is part of the CFIA recalls, it is recommended to throw it out," the PHAC recommended in its Dec. 22 update.

The numbers are up from the previous update shared on Dec. 15, which indicated there were six deaths and 153 confirmed salmonella cases in the outbreak. The total number of people hospitalized had been 53.

In both Canada and the United States, the potentially-contaminated cantaloupes include those sold with a "4050" label, indicating they're a "product of Mexico." The Canadian recall list notes the Malichita cantaloupes were sold between Oct. 11 and Nov. 14, while the Rudy ones were sold between Oct. 10 and Nov. 24.

While the CFIA continues to investigate the outbreak, the illness reporting period is between two and six weeks, meaning more cases may be reported.

Fresh fruits are just one of many foods that are known to have been culprits of bacterial infections and food poisoning. Read on for everything you need to know.

Most common foods linked to salmonella infection


Raw and undercooked poultry, including chicken and turkey, is at high risk of salmonella infection. Experts noted that breaded chicken products, like chicken nuggets, are also commonly linked to salmonella contamination because people assume they are already cooked when buying them and don’t prepare the nuggets properly.


Eggs are very sensitive to salmonella, and can make you sick if you eat them raw or undercooked.

“Typically the carriage in eggs is .001 per cent, but the problem is we eat eggs raw essentially, sunny side up and things like that. That’s the risk factor,” said Warriner.

Fruits and veggies

Fruits and vegetables, like leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes and onions, have been known to cause food poisoning when consumed raw.

“You can cook onions, but the problem is that often you use them for salads or guacamole and you don’t cook it so you are not killing [the bacteria],” noted Narvaez.

Experts said the main cause of contamination with produce happens through water sources used for irrigation.

Bacterial culture plate against romaine lettuce
Leafy greens have been known to cause food poisoning. (Getty)


Different kinds of raw sprouts, including alfalfa and mung bean, have been linked to salmonella poisoning. Sprouts require water and warm conditions for the seeds to germinate, which generates a really good environment for bacteria to grow.

Peanut butter

Peanut butter is another food product that can be infected with salmonella before it even makes it to the processing plant. Peanuts are grown underground and can become contaminated through the manure that’s often used as fertilizer.

“Salmonella is really strong and persistent in a dry state,” explained Warriner.


Fish and shellfish can also become infected with salmonella, especially if they are being imported from places with a warmer climate. Properly cooking raw seafood is the best way to prevent getting food poisoning.

Pet food

It's not you that can be harmed by salmonella. Experts say pet owners also need to be careful when buying pet food. Dry pet food like kibble is often heated at a high temperature that will kill off bacteria. Even so, Warriner said there have been cases where salmonella has been found in the flavourings that get mixed into the food after it’s been cooked.

How do I prevent salmonella infection?

  • Properly cook raw meat: When you’re cooking chicken or any kind of meat, make sure you cook it to the required internal temperature. A meat thermometer is a handy tool to ensure your meat is cooked and safe to eat.

  • Sanitation: Make sure you don’t cross-contaminate. Wash your cutting boards, cooking utensils and hands after handling raw meat products. It’s also not recommended to wash meat before cooking it.

  • Store food at the proper temperature: When you’re going shopping during the hot summer months, keep a cooler in your car to avoid having meat go bad.

  • Keep an eye on recalls: If you see a recall, check your pantry or fridge to make sure you don’t consume the product.

Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, vomiting and headaches.

If you have an item at home that’s been recalled you’re advised to throw it out or return it to the store where you bought it.