When Life Gives You Melons, Here’s How to Make Sure They’re Safe to Eat

Photo: Stocksy/Treasures & Travels
Even if you've been diligent about triple-washing your own lettuce since news spread about the e.coli outbreak in romaine lettuce (and avoiding bagged lettuce like late-cancel fees from your boutique fitness classes), another contamination means your kitchen isn't totally safe from harmful bacteria. The latest item in the produce section to watch out for is melons, meaning even foods with built-in barriers aren't infection-proof.

According to Newsweek, containers of pre-cut melon—including watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, and fruit salad that includes any of the aforementioned melons—were recalled in eight different states due to potential salmonella contamination. So far, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes the melons in question—which came from Caito Foods in Indianapolis, but were distributed at many go-to grocers, like Trader Joe's, Costco, and Whole Foods—have caused at least 60 illnesses in five states, 31 of which have required hospitalization.

So, how do you know if the convenient pre-cut fruit containers at your grocery store are safe to eat? The CDC says since the the affected products were shipped between April 17 and June 7, they might still be on store shelves (or, #yikes, in your fridge). Be on the lookout for certain UPC numbers, provided by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), on products sold in Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes the affected melons—which came from Caito Foods in Indianapolis—have caused at least 60 illnesses in five states, 31 of which have required hospitalization.

After making sure your home is free of any contaminated fruit, there are some precautions that can help keep you safe from foodborne illnesses in the future. It might feel silly to wash melon before cutting in because the skin is so protective, but according to the University of Florida, the practice just as important for these rounds as for your other produce. Because bacteria on the outside can transfer to the inside as it's being sliced, experts suggest throughly washing the outer surface with cool tap water, then scrubbing it with a clean produce brush. Next, dry the melon with a clean towel and store it in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it.

By taking a few extra steps, you can help ensure your fruit is free of harmful bacteria. And as for the pre-cut melon you buy in the store, the FDA reports you might want to rewash it before consumption just like everything else. It's better to be safe than sorry, right?

Here are five fresh-fruit popsicle recipes you'll want to try this summer. Or, meet the chef who uses fruit and veggies to create hypnotizing works of art.

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