We have to wonder if the food industry and its regulators are in cahoots with one another to make recalls as confusing as possible in order to get the public to just stop paying attention.

In the last week, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has put out company press releases for Charlie’s Produce, T.M. Kovacevich International Inc., JARD Marketing Corp. Simply Fresh Fruit, Bounty Fresh, Chiquita Brands International, Dole Fresh Fruit, and Spokane Produce all doing the same thing: recalling Honduran cantaloupe.

Cantaloupe grown and packed by Agropecuaria Montelibano has been found to be responsible for an outbreak of Salmonella Litchfield in the United States and Canada. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration issued an “import alert” on 03/22/08 naming Honduran cantaloupe as the source of the outbreak.

We did not at the get-go get a list of brand labels, including the well known ones like Chiquita and Dole, that import the Honduran cantaloupe. Why, since we presume Agropecuaria Montelibano is licensed to import to the U.S, could it be required to give up its list of customers so consumers and retailers could know in a quick and efficient manner?  Why, indeed.

Maybe the Dole’s and Chiquita’s of the world think that a few more hours of having their products sold the public helps them offset the huge recall costs. Consumers hearing vague information about a recall of imported fruit probably do what we do —stop buying any imports for a while. (“Were those blueberries on the same boat as those Salmonella-tainted cantaloupe?”)

 In the better late than never category, FDA now has a Consolidated List: U.S. Importers and Food Manufacturers That Received Cantaloupe from Agropecuaria Montelibano  Go here for that.

Meanwhile, 50 people in 16 states are sick with this Litchfield strain of salmonella.  Fourteen of the victims were sent to hospitals so far.   None of yet died.