It's summertime! Melon is one of those quintessential summertime snacks. It's healthy and delicious, and everyone enjoys it, from babies to grandparents. Periodically, melon is seen in the news for not such a fun reason: it is a potentially hazardous food, or a food that has the ability for bacteria to grow and thrive. It's important to take precautions before buying, eating or serving any type of melon.
Why is melon a harbor for pathogens? One reason is that grown on the ground, a host of bacteria. Contaminants such as E. coli can be introduced to the "meat" of the melon if the outside has a small cut or tear, or isn't thoroughly washed before slicing, as the knife pushes microscopic bacteria through the fruit. Since melon is often sold pre-sliced, that is another time that cross-contamination can be a factor. If the surfaces, knives, or cutter's hands are contaminated, the entire batch of cut fruit can be affected. There have also been recent cases of Salmonella infection linked to pre-sliced melon. One major thing you can do to prevent foodborne illness from melon is to buy them whole, and wash and slice them yourself.
Melon is almost always served cold, so it misses the important step of cooking to avoid foodborne illness. Listeria is a common contaminant of melons that can thrive under refrigeration, so unless you have thoroughly inspected, washed, cut, and safely stored a melon yourself, you may want to avoid it for the very young, the very old, and pregnant women. Again, try to purchase a whole melon whenever possible, and make sure it doesn't have any cuts, tears, or blemishes.
There are many different types of pathogens that can infect a melon, but there are many ways you can protect your family from becoming ill from consuming it. Melon is still a great food source so long as precautions are followed when selecting, preparing, and storing. As with any food, it's important to follow food safety rules to help keep your family safe from foodborne illness. For washing melon thoroughly, we recommend warm water, as well as CitroBio Fresh Food Wash. Learn more about CitroBio here.