Most of the media attention has been focused on the growers, but increasingly, members of the industry are looking to the retailers who bought the cantaloupes.
A common refrain we at The Packer hear from growers is that they are increasingly burdened by the costs of third-party audits mandated by customers, and, in some cases, larger firms selling to multiple retailers must contract with more than one food safety auditing company.
In the Burch Farms case, on-site audits did not include the 115 acres of cantaloupes grown this season. At Jensen Farms, the audit was done before the season was in full swing, so there was no true measure of the company’s food safety performance.
More information on practices at Chamberlain Farms will likely be coming out soon.
How closely are buyers checking to see if suppliers are truly toeing the line when it comes to food safety? As in the case of Jensen Farms, it’s evident that a piece of paper declaring a clean bill of health one week doesn’t hold true throughout the season.
This will no doubt fuel grower unease as they write a check — or two or more — to third-party certifiers. But those audits are necessary, regardless of how many acres they ship from.
What's your take? Leave a comment and tell us your opinion.