(Reader Opinion) – A recent article told us that cantaloupe that can cause salmonellosis has been sold in Quebec. Recently, one death has been reported in connection with this cantaloupe-related outbreak. Obviously, the Canadian and Quebec authorities have issued recall notices, but residents still have many questions regarding the prevention of this disease.
Did you know that salmonellosis is an infection caused by salmonella and transmitted by eating raw foods? Raw foods are the main carrier of pollution. In this sense, it is necessary to be careful when handling and consuming it. Genetically, salmonellosis does not come from fruits, but they can be contaminated by irrigation water or by pollutants present on the soil surface. As a result, contaminants are mainly found on the peel of the fruit.
There’s no such thing as zero risk when it comes to salmonella, but by taking precautions, it’s easy to reduce the risks at home. Here are some tips and tricks to reduce the risk of contamination when dealing with cantaloupe, keeping in mind that its peel is rough.
- Wash or clean the skin of the cantaloupe well before handling it. Using mild soap may be appropriate;
- Separate the peel from the fruit and wash your hands after handling the peel;
- Clean your knife and cutting board;
- Avoid contact of cantaloupe with other fruits and vegetables in the refrigerator.
Imported fruits are most at risk of contamination, especially because we do not know all the health standards for fruits grown in other countries. Unprocessed fruits are not subject to the same testing standards as processed products. There is also a greater risk of using contaminated water in countries that have little water management infrastructure.
We also urge the government to take the necessary measures to protect the public, based on the knowledge and skills of microbiologists. In fact, their role is particularly to closely monitor the development of pollutants and pathogens, as well as to analyze risks to public health.
Additionally, we note in passing that despite our important role in studying pathogens such as those causing salmonellosis, the microbiology profession is unregulated. Thus, anyone can claim to practice the profession. We therefore believe that one defense against the damage that such a situation could cause to public health and safety is to integrate microbiologists into the professional system in Quebec.
Written by Mark Hamilton, President of the Association of Microbiologists of Quebec
Photo: Mark Hamilton (Photo courtesy of AMQ)