Burch Farms lacked audits, traceability on recalled fruit

08/16/2012 03:24:00 PM
Coral Beach

Burch Farms, Faison N.C.Listeria contamination has been confirmed at the Burch Farms melon packing facility in Faison, N.C., according to the Food and Drug Administration.

In an update posted on its website late Aug. 13, FDA officials said the listeria finding spurred Burch to expand its recall to include all cantaloupe and honeydew melons shipped this season. No illnesses have been reported in relation to the recalled melons.

“This recall expansion is based on the FDA’s finding of Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono) on a honeydew melon grown and packed by Burch Farms. The recall expansion is also a result of the agency’s finding of L. mono in the environment of the firm’s packing facility,” according to the notice.

Melon box used by Burch Farms, Faison, N.C.Courtesy FDABurch Farms used these melon boxes to ship its honeydew melons, which have been recalled because of possible listeria contamination. The Food and Drug Administration stated in a news release that it is not known for sure where the melons were distributed.Company spokeswoman Teresa Burch said it has not had its cantaloupe operation audited by a third party for food safety practices, and although the company has traceability programs for other items, there is none in place for its melons.

Burch Equipment LLC, doing business as Burch Farms, originally recalled about 5,200 cantaloupes July 28 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program found listeria on one melon at retail during a random sampling.

The grower expanded the recall to include 188,900 cantaloupes Aug. 3 and corrected the variety from athena to caribbean golds. That expansion came after the FDA revealed it had found “unsanitary conditions” at the Burch packing shed.

Owner Jimmy Burch Sr. said Aug. 14 that investigators had just left his farm that morning.

“I asked the guy who took the samples and he said he couldn’t tell me anything,” Burch said. “They just said ‘you’ll be getting results in a few days’ and left.”

Burch said he uses the sanitizer SaniDate in his packing facility’s water. According to the Burch Farms website, the operations are audited by PrimusLabs.

PrimusLabs in-house counsel Ryan Fothergill confirmed that the company has audited the leafy greens processing and field operations at Burch Farms but not the cantaloupe operation. Fothergill said Primus records show its staff was last at the Burch operation in March.

Burch said he planted only about 10 acres of honeydews for this season. The entire crop went to wholesalers. He said his farm has not had food safety issues in the past.


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GMH    
Mississippi  |  August, 16, 2012 at 05:20 PM

We revived a called this morning 8-16-2012 at 12:54pm informing us we had purchased these exact Melons from our local Kroger in Oxford, MS and they could be returned! Well since the dates were July 12 to 22 -2012 of course that is impossible because they were eaten. We also live in the country and I feed the rinds to the wildlife so they could also be contaminated now! I have been sick since the August 9 2012 and started taking antibiotics on the 8-10-12 ! My spouse and I both have compromised immune systems so we are extremely concerned as to what permanent long term effects this will have on our health!

Coral Beach    
August, 17, 2012 at 10:22 AM

The FDA is advising anyone who has become ill after eating these recalled melons to check with their doctors. Simple lab tests can determine whether you have contracted any listeria-related illnesses.

Lalo Sandoval    
Gonzales Ca  |  August, 16, 2012 at 08:21 PM

No third part audit for Kroger? What happened? Does Faison N. C. have internet access? Newspaper service? Appears Food Safety Program was a "Dust Mask"

Gregg    
Texas  |  August, 17, 2012 at 09:11 AM

Kroger and any other retailer that purchases from a company without proof of third party audits should be penalized. This is undefensable for Kroger to not require sourcing from food safe companies. Is this crop "Organic" like the cantaloupe crop in Colorado? I also think it should be illegal to transition crops. USDA & FDA has really buried the fact that the cantaloupe crop in Colorado was an Organic Crop.

Kurt    
Missouri  |  August, 17, 2012 at 09:27 AM

I was taught that when you purchase produce that was picked off a tree or a bush, grown on or under the ground you WASH it. food safety and recalls in the USA have gone nuts. Everything is a knee jerk anymore and pretty soon the shelves will be empty as stupid regulations will drive growers and processors from the business. Wake up people. the USA has the safest food and water on the planet and yet these knee jerk reactions keep on happening. It has gotten out of control from the media, FDA, and USDA.

KYLE    
TAMPA  |  August, 17, 2012 at 10:43 AM

READ THE LAST PART OF THIS COLUMN he said that his farm has not had food safety issues o the past that does not mean that he will ot have them on the furture Duh also it has bee proved taht the listeria could be trasmitet from the vehicles that take the cull from facilities because mostly of the cull goes to the cow farms and those veicles could gte the listeria form the cows pup and when they come back to the packing houses they do not go trough sanitation station then the drivers get out of the vehicles on the farm an the packinghouses carriying the contemination on their shoes

Tom    
Oregon  |  August, 17, 2012 at 12:24 PM

Greg, can you provide a link to support your statement that the cantaloupes in the Colorado incident were organic?

mike    
clinton n.c.  |  August, 17, 2012 at 05:27 PM

Everyone of you are right but what you dont understand is that we all buy produce year round that comes from Mexico,Guatamala,and other places that have no food safety programs at all and we never complain about being sick until someone tells us we have a reason to.This issue is a sore one around my house because as a grower I have to at times purchase and bring into my home perishables that I know for a fact are not regulated by the government using the guidelines that I have to abide by year in and year out. Thank about for a moment then send your complaints to the USDA about non-regulated produce that they allow in this country every single day and you purchase without a second thought

Mae Johns    
New York  |  August, 17, 2012 at 09:14 PM

No, you're wrong. More than 6,000 Americans die every year from foodborne illness. And washing the cantaloupe would not do a thing this time; the bacteria were on the INSIDE of the fruit as well. Washing does not get rid of all of the pathogenic bacteria on produce and may in fact spread the bacteria around the kitchen. Considering that the medical bills for ONE case of hemolytic uremic syndrome from E. coli 0157:H7 can run $6 MILLION, regulations are a cost effective way to save money and LIVES.

Frank    
CO  |  August, 20, 2012 at 02:53 PM

The Jensen Farms cantaloupe was in the second or third year of transition. Either the FDA reported it or the information was in the audit itself. Transition = organic growing.

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