Like their counterparts elsewhere, California cantaloupe growers have increased their food safety efforts since the Colorado outbreak.
“Everyone’s implementing more stringent food safety practices from harvest to cooling to reassure the consumer the fruit is safe,” Andrews said. “But the real change is postharvest.”
That new focus is on the prospect of pathogens lingering on equipment surfaces.
“We’ll all have to increase our sanitation practices at our cold storage facilities,” Andrews said. “In the past it was the preseason checks and weekly programs. Now it’s going to be daily checks and daily cleanings.
“The farming side, we’ve done for several years. The new efforts are to continue food safety all the way to loading the truck. Even our forklifts need to be washed more often than in past practice. The trend is to rewrite your sanitation program.”