Salmonella probe ongoing; cantaloupe grower remains unnamed - The Packer

Salmonella probe ongoing; cantaloupe grower remains unnamed

08/21/2012 05:20:00 PM
Coral Beach

“This strain is one of the most common,” Quinlisk said Aug. 21. “You would expect to find a fair number of cases of this at any point.”

Quinlisk said she is not ruling out the Indiana cantaloupe as the cause, but merely expressing caution at this point in the investigation. She said the FDA has not provided her with the name of the Indiana cantaloupe grower who withdrew his melons.

Dan Egel, a plant pathologist at Purdue University and treasurer of the Southwest Indiana Melon and Vegetable Association, said some cantaloupe growers have abandoned melons in their fields.

“One grower I spoke with has already plowed them under,” Egel said. “Others are saying they won’t plant any next year. One man had $15,000 worth in his cooler and he said he was just going to throw them out because no one wants to buy from the area.”

Egel said in his 17 years in the region the number of small cantaloupe growers has declined.

“It used to be if you grew watermelon you also grew a few acres of cantaloupe. That has changed,” Egel said. “Retailers started asking for the melons to be washed and then they started wanting them to be pre-cooled. ... That kind of equipment costs money that smaller growers just don’t have.”

Small or large, growers should be held to the same food safety standards, said Steve Patricio, chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, and Dan Vache, vice president of supply chain management for united Fresh Produce Association, Washington D.C.

Patricio said he is angry and frustrated by the current cantaloupe news. He said the California cantaloupe growers have been working on food safety techniques for their commodity for 20 years and have developed guidelines and materials for growers.

But Patricio and Vache said other entities along the supply chain have responsibilities, too.

“I’d like to believe that there would be unanimity with retailers on food safety requirements," Patricio said.

Vache said retailers and distributors not only need to require their suppliers to use good food safety practices, but they need to have traceability programs in place for instances such as the current salmonella outbreak.

“Some of these issues will go away when we achieve whole-chain traceability,” Vache said. “Once it leaves the grower’s hands it’s up to the rest of the chain.”

Vache also said retailers need to be diligent about buying from suppliers and distributors who have proven food safety programs. When regular suppliers run low, giving into the temptation to use a source with lower standards can lead to problems.

“It is incumbent upon them to have more discipline in their buying practices,” Vache said.

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Erica Mendoza    
August, 21, 2012 at 06:24 PM

How's it any different than any other recall? It's apparent they aren't positive that it's not something else other than cantaloupe so why say anything at all? Marler just wants to know do can start lawsuits!!!

louisville  |  August, 21, 2012 at 08:33 PM

The grower/shipper must be large, probably has watermelons also to move for labor day. We will find out who it is next week.

louisville  |  August, 21, 2012 at 09:15 PM

Twenty states are involved. Two deaths and 141 illnesses have been linked to the outbreak BURCH FARMS: THEY DISCLOSED THEIR NAME IMMEDIATELY AND HURT HIS BUSINESS. NOBODY SICK FROM ONLY 1 CANTELOUPE AND ONLY 1 HONEYDEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lalo Sandoval    
Gonzales Ca  |  August, 22, 2012 at 08:26 AM

Erica you would be singing a different tune if one of your children or grandparents were ill from eating these cantaloupes You would be one of the first to call Marler Marler would not HAVE ANY LAWSUITS if correct procedures/policies were in place and followed at these operations

Texas  |  August, 22, 2012 at 08:58 AM

It appears to me that this may be another "Organic Crop" as the USDA & FDA are very hesitant to hurt the organic markets. The public is also not aware of the FDA and what they call "Stealth Recalls". This is where the FDA determines that it is better suited to not alert even the produce industry of certain recalls!! There is a company in Texas that had 33 stealth recalls in a period of 6 months. Google stealth recall

August, 22, 2012 at 08:59 AM

Stan ..your a bum

Esteban Dabdoub    
Nogales, Az  |  August, 22, 2012 at 10:21 AM

When product from Mexico is suspected of being contaminated everyone jumps on the bandwagon to discredit Mexican growers who by the way have infrastructure in place that by far exceeds the growing, packing and living conditions of their people, compared to most American farming conditions , Mexican farms put to shame all those lobbyists,growers and politicians that want to do away with NAFTA & the Suspension Agreement. Shame on you.

WA  |  August, 22, 2012 at 10:43 AM

It is wrong to make the statement "Marler would not have any lawsuits if correct procedures/policies were in place and followed at these operations." Follow the produce from the field to the table, how many hands touch each piece, how many facilities and vehicles-trucks were each item in and out of, how many customers at the retail location touched the item prior to the end purchase...To blame farmers and packing sheds without proper investigation is incorrect. And yes, it may turn out to be either one of those, but it may not. Consumers have an obligation to wash and clean produce before eating.

CT  |  August, 22, 2012 at 11:23 AM

George: I would very much like to see the supporting evidence to your claim made above. I'm not sure what makes you believe that this or other previous recalls were from "organic" crops as I'm actively involved in the industry and have not seen ANY information that links previous melon recalls to organically grown produce. Please refrain from posting "shotgun" comments that can't be supported by anything other than your personal opinions.

nc  |  August, 22, 2012 at 01:10 PM

No problem with NAFTA at all But i can tell you havent been to a veg. ferm in Mexico

Fl  |  August, 28, 2012 at 08:08 AM

I can tell your not a FARMER in Florida either, NAFTA has killed our states Ag industry!!!!! And alot of other states as well...........because Mexico is not competing on the same grounds of Pay Standards, Required Insurances, Child Labor Laws EPA and FDA regualtions, Shame on all for supporting the Mexican growers and not our own

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