Melon Vs. Watermelon

Food safety is an issue that will never go away and federal regulations will be coming, probably in the near future. Unfortunately, those regulations will come at a cost to the grower, and those costs will be difficult to pass along to the consumer. As a result, those expenses have the potential to present a significant burden for some growers.

That is why the National Watermelon Association (NWA) is aggressively pleading its case to FDA in regard to the agency’s classification of watermelon. Watermelon currently is grouped in the melon category, which is one of the seven high-risk categories based on outbreaks traced by FDA, states NWA Executive Director Robert Morrissey in a letter to the watermelon industry last month. Watermelon, however, has had no outbreaks related to production practices.

In the letter to the industry, Morrissey asks producers and others in the industry to contact FDA and ask the agency to reconsider how it views watermelon in relation to food safety. “FDA has verified that watermelon has no outbreaks related to production or industry practices,” states Morrissey. “Yet, many of our farmers and handlers are required to invest ‘unnecessarily’ in additional audits and other food safety programs by their customers due to the inclusion in the melon category.

“We are following GAPs and good handling principles and expect to continue to do so, in many cases doing more than what is expected on our farms and in our packingsheds,” he continues. “What we need to do is to separate our ‘safe’ crop from unnecessary protocols and audits that are required of high-risk categories.”

Understanding Risk

In a letter drafted for its members to send to their representatives in Congress to make them aware of the watermelon situation, the NWA cites comments made by United Fresh Produce Association that point out the differences in the melon category: “The industry recognizes that netted skin melons, like cantaloupe, have a different contamination risk profile from waxy skin melons, like watermelon, and this is reflected in the relative frequency that each has been associated with illness outbreaks.”

What Growers Can Do

NWA is encouraging growers to plead their case to FDA, but time is running out. The deadline for comments is May 24. To submit comments, growers can visit the docket FDA has opened to gather information on current practices and conditions for fresh produce production and packing at www.regulations.gov (The ID number is FDA-2010-N-0085-0070.)

NWA also is asking those in the industry to contact their senators and representatives to ask them for their support. To view a draft of the letters to send to Congress and Morrissey’s letter to the watermelon industry go to www.nationalwatermelonassociation.com.

Because watermelons have never been the cause of a foodborne illness outbreak, it makes sense that they should not be lumped in with other melons, but what is your take on this?  Post your thoughts in the comment box below.

Leave a Reply

Featured Stories
sprayer applying bactericides to citrus trees
Insect & Disease Update
January 24, 2017
New Product Called on to Defend Citrus From Scourge
Mycoshield is a bactericide approved to take aim at HLB-infected trees. Read More
Port Tampa Bay shipping channel
Citrus
January 24, 2017
Trump Withdraws U.S. From Trans-Pacific Partnership
Fresh produce export market to hit a wall with signing of executive order. Read More
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under 55 Years Old
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus Greening Research
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Postbloom Fruit Drop symptoms on Florida ctirus
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Postbloom Fruit Drop
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimum Wage 30% by Next Year
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 21, 2017
$8.8M Available to Support Ag Programs at Hispanic-Serving Institutions
Grants designed to attract, retain students in agricultural fields. Read More
a trio of peaches
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Specialty Crops
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Receives Cornell’s Excellence in IPM Award 
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine Industry
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
The Latest
Insect & Disease Update
January 24, 2017
New Product Called on to Defend Citrus F…
Mycoshield is a bactericide approved to take aim at HLB-infected trees. Read More
Citrus
January 24, 2017
Trump Withdraws U.S. From Trans-Pacific …
Fresh produce export market to hit a wall with signing of executive order. Read More
Vegetables
January 23, 2017
The Northwest Has the Most Growers Under…
Survey respondents in the Northwest are more likely to grow organically, avoid genetically modified crops [GMOs], and more likely to Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
California Lands $5 Million for Citrus G…
The USDA grant will be used to create and identify possible solutions for a cure. Read More
Insect & Disease Update
January 23, 2017
Florida Citrus Growers on Alert for Post…
After the worst outbreak in years, growers should be wary of this disorder. Read More
More Vegetables
January 23, 2017
California Garlic Grower to Raise Minimu…
Christopher Ranch commits to $15 per hour minimum wages for all employees by 2018. Read More
GenNext Growers
January 21, 2017
$8.8M Available to Support Ag Programs a…
Grants designed to attract, retain students in agricultural fields. Read More
Fruits
January 20, 2017
Insecticide Label Expanded to Many Speci…
Sivanto Prime from Bayer can now be used in foliar form on stone fruit and caneberries, and for soil use on leafy and brassica vegetables. Read More
Cucurbits
January 20, 2017
Renowned Researcher Margaret McGrath Rec…
A plant pathologist, McGrath’s expertise has helped both organic and conventional growers fight late blight, downy mildew, and others.  Read More
Grapes
January 20, 2017
Live Reports on the State of the Wine In…
The Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, by far the nation’s largest winegrape conference, is happening this week in Sacramento, CA. Read More
Farm Marketing
January 20, 2017
Direct Marketing Revenue Topped $8 Billi…
USDA has released its first-ever survey on direct marketing, and it shows that the local food industry is huge. Read More
Citrus
January 20, 2017
Farming Will Always Have a Place in Flor…
Growers are resilient and agriculture will survive in our state and elsewhere. It has to, if we want food on our plates. Read More
Disease Control
January 20, 2017
Don’t Let Stemphylium Leaf Spot St…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this vegetable disease. Read More
Disease Control
January 19, 2017
Clues Found to Block Late Blight’s…
With food security at stake, breakthrough in genetic research could help prevent more strains of the deadly pathogen from entering the U.S. Read More
Grapes
January 19, 2017
U.S. Challenges Canadian Trade Measures …
Trade enforcement action challenges British Columbia regulations that unfairly exclude U.S. wine from grocery store shelves. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
Trump Taps Sonny Perdue for Secretary of…
Ag leaders applaud pick to head up USDA. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New York Representatives Introduce Bill …
Legislators say the move aligns the program in the department to better fit the needs of agriculture businesses. Read More
Citrus
January 19, 2017
New Technology Could Take Weather Intel …
Scientists aiming to make difficult climate-based production decisions easier for growers. Read More