The recent salmonella outbreak traced to cantaloupes grown in Indiana has many Kentuckians concerned about consuming melons, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to abstain from eating this fresh summer delicacy. When properly handled, melons can be a safe, satisfying treat.
Here are some tips on how to safely handle melons:
• Buy melons from a local, reputable source. The shorter the distance food has to travel from farm to table, the less of a chance that microorganisms have grown on the produce. Microorganisms need time to multiply.
• Wash your hands before and after handling fresh produce.
• Before consuming, rinse melons with clean, running water and use a clean vegetable brush to scrub away debris on the skin, even if they have been prewashed. Washing the skin of fresh produce is important even if you are going to only eat the inside of the fruit as bacteria on the skin can be transferred to the flesh of the fruit when it is sliced.
• Do not use dishwashing or hand soap to wash produce. These items have not been tested for use on food.
• Cut melons using clean, sanitized knives and cutting boards.
• Once sliced, melons must be stored below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and consumed within a few days.
• Avoid consuming any melons if the store, restaurant or market does not know where they were grown. You may also want to avoid purchasing pre-sliced melons as you do not know whether proper safety precautions were taken in their processing.
For more information on food safety, contact your Henry County Cooperative Extension Service. Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.