In a Feb. 25 letter to the cantaloupe industry, which includes those that grow, harvest, sort, pack, process or ship cantaloupes, FDA indicated its plans to conduct inspections of packing houses. FDA also indicated that it will continue to target imported cantaloupes at the border for sampling.
In a recent Member Alert, United Fresh President and CEO Tom Stenzel said “The cantaloupe industry has made tremendous strides in addressing food safety priorities and this FDA inspection program will demonstrate that. It’s imperative that every produce industry operation shows the highest commitment to food safety.”
As the growing and harvest season get under way for U.S. grown cantaloupe, FDA is working with state partners and the produce industry to promote practices that reduce the risk of harmful contamination.
The letter states: “We want to underscore the importance of these practices for the cantaloupe industry in light of recent outbreaks and pathogen positive sample findings associated with fresh cantaloupes. We previously issued a letter to the cantaloupe industry (Nov. 03, 2011) in response to a multi-state foodborne illness outbreak of listeriosis associated with the consumption of fresh, whole cantaloupe. We recognize that many cantaloupe industry organizations have taken actions to address food safety issues associated with growing, handling, processing, and distribution of whole and fresh-cut cantaloupe. We applaud efforts led by the cantaloupe industry that are aimed at enhancing cantaloupe safety. …
“Because the recent outbreaks have been traced to domestic cantaloupe packinghouses, during the 2013 growing season, we intend to initiate inspections with a sampling component at a subset of the cantaloupe packinghouses in the United States. The aim of these inspections is in part, to assess the current practices by this segment of the produce industry and to identify insanitary conditions that may affect the safety of cantaloupe destined for distribution to consumers. In the event of adverse findings, we will take action as needed to protect the public health. We will continue to target imported cantaloupes at the border for sampling and may engage in other surveillance and inspection activities as circumstances warrant to meet our public health regulatory mandate and responsibilities.”
Click here to read the letter from FDA.
To find out how to reduce the incidence of Listeria on the farm, click here.