Burch Farms: No more cantaloupes - The Packer

Burch Farms: No more cantaloupes

08/30/2012 09:46:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Jimmy BurchBurch(CLARIFIED) FAISON, N.C. — A listeria recall is prompting Burch Farms to end its cantaloupe program.

Burch finished its cantaloupe season July 27 after the Food and Drug Administration posted a recall notice after random testing detected the listeria in the cantaloupe; the FDA later found listeria at the company’s facilities.

Jimmy Burch, co-owner of Burch Farms, said the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“We’re done. No more cantaloupe,” Burch said Aug. 29. “That part of our life is over with. We will let someone else raise the cantaloupe. We have already towed the equipment out of the building. It’s not worth the liability.”

A grower-shipper of sweet potatoes and greens, Burch said his operation packed cantaloupe in a separate packing line three miles away from its headquarters.

Cantaloupe constituted 1% of Burch’s sales, he said.

Burch said an FDA representative visited the operation on Aug. 21 and officially closed the recall case.

“It’s over,” Burch said. “No one’s sick, thank God. It has been an absolutely horrible experience.”

FDA spokeswoman Patricia El-Hinnawy, however, said the agency's investigation was still ongoing Sept. 5.

He said he grew and packed cantaloupe using proper sanitation and washed with Sanidate.

“I thought we were covered,” Burch said. “We thought we were good to go. Our equipment was calibrated.”

Saying Listeria resides in dirt in every acre of land all over the world, Burch said there’s no way to pack cantaloupe 100% free of contamination.

“It’s a time bomb,” he said. “It will happen again. This is a part of nature. It’s just a matter of time when there will be another outbreak somewhere.”

According to the FDA, Burch sold the cantaloupes to wholesalers June 23 to July 27.

Note on clarification: According to the FDA, the investigation concerning Burch Farms and its connection to the listeria contamination was still ongoing as of Sept. 5.

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Mark Seitz    
North Carolina  |  August, 30, 2012 at 01:05 PM

It is unfortunate it comes to this with these farms but I don't blame the owner one bit! Regulators 1 Farmers - 0 Food Supply - decreasing...

ooffa tunamble    
Utah  |  August, 30, 2012 at 03:33 PM

he states 1% of sales. I sat BS

USA  |  August, 31, 2012 at 02:07 PM

As we can see on all the recalls, it doesn't matter what we are growing. Everything can get contaminated, if there is no food safety practiced. As we read there was a lot more wrong, no recordkeeping, no labeling and therefore no traceability. No correct packaging either.

Harris Cutler    
Clarks Summit, PA  |  August, 31, 2012 at 04:28 PM

We respect the Burch family and know they will attain great success moving forward. We note with pleasure that no one got sick which affirms that they did it right. They will leave the cantaloupe growing to the cantaloupe growers. The family is one steeped in tradition and integrity. I for one, am very proud of how they conducted themselves throughout this problems. They can stand tall that they did the right thing when the problem arose and that their decision to stay away from melons in the future is the correct one. G-d bless them and keep them well. Harris Cutler

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