Mexico closes melon processing plant linked to salmonellosis deaths in Canada and the US

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The health authorities rule out that the fruit has been contaminated in the export process and point to the ejidos and water of a company based in Sonora

The Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks (Cofepris) announced this Friday the temporary closure of the cantaloupe melon processing plant that the United States and Canada relate to an outbreak of salmonellosis that has left 8 dead and 359 affected so far. Mexican health authorities are testing the water and soil of the Malachita company’s ejidos to find out the origin of the bacteria.

The statement released by the Ministry of Agriculture focuses on the land of the Mexican company in Guaymas, Sonora. “Sampling of inert surfaces and water was carried out, from which notification of results on the origin or moment of contamination is expected,” the notification explains. This investigation at the place of origin of the melons rules out that the fruit has been infected in the export process or in supermarkets in the United States and Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) indicated last Thursday that so far 5 people have died and 129 were infected with salmonellosis after consuming melons labeled Malachita and Rudy, both produced by the Sonora company. “The majority of people who have fallen ill are children under five years old or adults over 65 years old,” argued the federal agency. In the United States, the figure is 3 deaths and 230 cases.

Authorities in both countries singled out Malachita melons and removed them from supermarkets. The Ministry of Agriculture revealed in a statement released last Thursday that the fruit could have been contaminated in the export process or in the countries affected by the outbreak. “The company has the necessary controls for the traceability of its operations, which allows the trace of the melon to be followed, from the production unit to its entry into United States territory, the point from which the product entered Canada,” the message explained.

This setback could affect the melon business in Mexico, which is the second largest exporter in the world after Spain. The sale of this fruit left a profit of 331 million dollars (about 5,766 million pesos) in 2021, according to the latest report from the Economic Complexity Observatory. Of every 100 melons that leave Mexico, 99 go to the United States or Canada, where the brand’s reputation has already been tarnished.

Source: El Pais