FDA releases inspection report of Chamberlain Farms - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

FDA releases inspection report of Chamberlain Farms

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The FDA has released its inspection report on Chamberlain Farms in Gibson County.

The report says nine out of 50 environmental swabs tested positive for two strains of salmonella in August.

The FDA investigator said some of the surfaces at the farm did not allow for appropriate cleaning. Where the cantaloupes were processed, including carpet and wood throughout the processing line. Also saying the conveyer, rollers and belts, had black, green and brown build up.

The FDA also says this is not a final report

Those who 14 News spoke to on Wednesday, including the health department, say no one locally got sick with salmonella in connection with melons, and say they support their local farm.

"They eat Tim's melons everyday. I've eaten his melons every day.  None of us got sick," Main Street Cafe owner, Scott Garrett.

Garrett owns several restaurants in Owensville and has been serving up Chamberlain melons for years.

"I can't see how you would pinpoint one farmer. If you went to each melon farmer and did tests, you are going to find problems with each person. It's not a perfect world," Garrett said.

Garrett also says unsanitary conditions aren't to blame for the salmonella outbreak, but instead, a combination of fertilizer and the weather conditions.

"We had 105 degree temperatures with no rain and it was a very unusual year, but I can't see that Tim Chamberlain done anything wrong," Garrett said. "Whatever bacteria was left in 2011, just carried through the winter in 2012. We basically had no freeze, had no snow. We had no rain."

The Gibson County Health Department says they and the state were initially called upon to check on the source of the salmonella outbreak.

As part of that investigation, they say they collected six melons from each farm. Ironically, they say Chamberlain Farms' melons did not come back positive for salmonella while other local farms did.

"It's not enough conclusive evidence that we have that we have been able to draw on our own to directly link any of the contamination or salmonella cases to one person or one farm, or one area," said Jennifer Tules with the Gibson County Health Department.

Both the health department and residents agree the spread of disease can happen to anyone if they don't take precautions.

"If you don't wash your fruits and vegetables, you risk the chance of getting sick," Owensville resident Debbie Ross said.

'While they acknowledge the FDA report notes certain conditions allegedly observed at Chamberlain Farm, there is nothing in the report to indicate the conditions are a source of or contributed to any reported illnesses," Chamberlain's attorney said.

He also say they are fully cooperating and have been with the FDA from the beginning of the investigation.

We will continue following this developing story.


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