California cantaloupe growers and shippers know the deadly listeria outbreak of 2011 wasn’t their fault, but it’s still their problem.
Most consumers simply don’t pay attention to growing areas, so all cantaloupe shippers pay the price of low demand for the food safety failures of one company in one region.
But the California industry is doing something about it.
In early November, the California cantaloupe industry urged growers and handlers worldwide to fund research to ensure food safety and restore consumer confidence after the outbreak.
The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board and California Melon Research Board, both based in Dinuba, Calif., have each committed $100,000 toward the research.
Steve Patricio, chairman of the advisory board, said the aim is to raise at least $1 million for the Center for Produce Safety to use for the research.
Also, CPS plans to sponsor an industry event Jan. 11 in San Diego, which will look at cantaloupe food safety guidance and training, if any updates to the guidance are needed, and new technology and research.
Considering California produces about 90% of domestic cantaloupes, it was up to them to lead this effort, which they’re doing.
They have indicated an eagerness to work with the Food and Drug Administration on stricter guidance, but also recognizing that not all growing areas are the same.
These are positive steps for the industry and the government.
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