California growers back mandatory cantaloupe food safety - The Packer

California growers back mandatory cantaloupe food safety

05/16/2012 04:12:00 PM
Mike Hornick


With the formation of a new desert district, the California Department of Food and Agriculture will appoint members and alternates from nominations received at public hearings in March.

Noncompliance with the coming food safety metrics would amount to an unfair trade practice, according to the CDFA.

“CDFA has provided oversight for a very similar program involving leafy greens for the past five years,” Karen Ross, CDFA secretary, said in a news release. “We know first-hand how effective these types of programs can be. There is clearly overwhelming support among the California cantaloupe industry for a food safety program that operates with government oversight.”

Tim York, president of Salinas-based Markon Cooperative, also welcomed the vote, and referred to the listeria outbreak traced to Jensen Farms, Granada, Colo.

“Produce buyers across the country should support the efforts of suppliers who are willing to provide the additional assurances we have been asking for in light of last fall’s listeria outbreak associated with Jensen Farms cantaloupe,” York said in the release.

California cantaloupes have never been associated with a foodborne illness, Patricio said.

Dinuba-based Monfort Management Inc., provides management services for the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board.


Rocky Ford responds
In Colorado, a new growers association has turned over audit responsibilities to the state’s department of agriculture. The plan is for Colorado growers to submit to at least two government audits each season — one scheduled, one unannounced. The association also endorsed box-level traceability for Rocky Ford cantaloupes.
But Rocky Ford production could be down 75% this year. Michael Hirakata, head of the new association and co-owner of Hirakata Farms, told The Packer in April that about 1,500 of the typical 2,000 acres will not be producing cantaloupes.
The 2011 listeria outbreak claimed 32 lives and sickened at least 146 people in 28 states.

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California LGMA    
Sacramento, CA  |  May, 16, 2012 at 06:34 PM

Congratulations to the California cantaloupe industry for adopting their new food safety program. Read more on this topic from LGMA here:

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