The state is working with government agencies, scientists and food safety experts to create a specific guidance plan for melons grown in California.
They will require food safety audits to verify each cantaloupe handler is in compliance and impose disciplinary actions on those who do not comply. This builds on California’s mandatory program of government inspection and quality certification.
“We would like to have this mandatory program in place for the 2012 season,” Patricio said.
He said most California cantaloupe producers support the program.
“Everybody is affirming what we’re trying to do,” Patricio said.
Rodney Van Bebber, sales manager for Pappas & Co., Mendota, Calif., agreed.
“We’re going to be part of (the new mandatory initiative) because it’s good for the industry and the cantaloupe industry, in particular,” he said.
“It’s essential to get consumer confidence back up. That is everything right now.”