An Eastern Iowa fruit distributor says health investigators cleared the cantaloupe he sells after discovering he had made past purchases from an Indiana farm linked to a massive salmonella outbreak. Darwin Paulsen of Durant says he bought some cantaloupe from Farms in southwestern Indiana.

“We did (purchased cantaloupe) prior to the date that is in question. We did distribute those melons, and they were alright,” according to Paulsen. At least some of the salmonella-contaminated cantaloupe being blamed for the outbreak came from Chamberlain . So far 178 people in 21 states have become sick, including seven in Iowa. Two people have died.

Paulsen distributes cantaloupe to eastern Iowa grocery stores after ordering it in. He said he knows the owner of Chamberlain farms and feels badly about the situation. “I’d like to point out the possibility that it might be like the tomato scare of several years ago when it was discovered to have salmonella in tomatoes and it turned out to be in jalepno peppers,” Paulsen says.

Paulsen says he began purchasing melons from Muscatine. Public health officials say its always good to wash off fruits and vegetables no matter where you buy them before you cut into them to eat them.

By Mark Carlson, KCRG, TV, Cedar Rapids