Message To Cantaloupe Growers: Minimize Your Food Safety Risks

Earlier this year the Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association (ECGA) was formed to restore confidence in the cantaloupe industry. Confidence needed to be restored after the 2011 Listeria outbreak in cantaloupe resulted in the death of 33 people. The cantaloupe was traced back to Jensen Farms in Colorado.

Charles Hall
Charles Hall

Compounding matters, in September, the owners of Jensen Farms were arrested and brought up on criminal misdemeanor charges. The brothers running the farm, Eric and Ryan Jensen, pleaded guilty to the charges.

With the recent criminal charges, cantaloupe is once again in the limelight. American Vegetable Grower spoke with Charles Hall, the executive director of the ECGA as well as the executive director of the Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, to get an update on ECGA’s progress, its future plans, and find out what is the takeaway message to growers in light of the negative press cantaloupe has been receiving. (To read more about the ECGA and its expectations of growers, go to http://bit.ly/16DNBWA.)

Q1 How was the first season for the growers in the ECGA?
Hall: The first season was not as good as we had hoped due to the poor weather conditions. As far as retail acceptance, we had some positive steps with several retailers looking specifically for EGCA growers. We will be working with other retailers and food service companies over the next several months to encourage them to utilize our ECGA-certified growers to supply their melons.

Q2 Moving forward, how many growers are on board with the ECGA to date? How many are expected by the 2014 growing season?
Hall: At this time we have approximately 20 growers that are certified or will be by the next growing season. We hope to add many more before the spring of 2014.

Q3 In light of the recent charges against the Jensens, what have been some of the big concerns of growers in the ECGA?
Hall: The biggest concern is just the heavy liability that all growers face in producing food products. A grower could be doing everything right, but that does not guarantee there won’t be a food-borne disease outbreak. If they are doing everything correctly, the probability is very low, but there are no absolutes in the produce business, and we don’t have a kill step with our fresh products.

Q4 What is your takeaway message to cantaloupe growers regarding the criminal charges?
Hall: The takeaway, to me, is that as an industry we have to be doing everything right. There is no room for error. We have to minimize the possibility, but if an outbreak occurs the systems must be in place to recall the product quickly and efficiently. AVG

Topics: ,

Leave a Reply

Cucurbits Stories
Belmont watermelon from Sakata
Cucurbits
October 27, 2016
9 Melon Varieties To Keep In Mind
View some of the latest watermelon and cantaloupe varieties making an impact on the market. Read More
This worker is in the process of grafting watermelon. 
Photo credit: Tri-Histil
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For Increased Production
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Adult whitefly is feeding on a tomato leaf. Photo credit: Saioa Legarrea, University of Georgia.
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
Georgia Whitefly Populations Explode, Troubling Vegetable Growers
Researcher says growers must be up-to-date on spray programs. Read More
CBP officers working at the Otay Mesa cargo
port of entry Oct. 2 discovered almost
3,100 pounds of marijuana hidden inside a shipment of cucumbers.
Photo courtesy of  U.S. Customs and Border Protection
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
3,100 Pounds Of Marijuana Hidden In Cucumbers Confiscated
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the discovery at the Otay Mesa cargo port in California. Read More
The striped cucumber beetle is a vector of the bacterial wilt pathogen.     
Photo credit: Gerald Holmes
Crop Protection
October 3, 2016
Take Control Of Cucumber Beetles
Tactics to manage the pest of cucurbits include proper scouting, trap cropping, plus cultural and chemical controls. Read More
34-749-rz
Cucurbits
September 25, 2016
10 Cantaloupe And Melon Varieties You Need To Know
Browse this slideshow for more information on 10 cantaloupe and melon varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading Read More
white grubs
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Your Vegetable Crop
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
The Latest
Crop Protection
November 30, 2016
The Effect Of Soil Fertility On Fusarium…
Ongoing research sheds light on the role soil health plays in the severity of the deadly pathogen. Read More
Crop Protection
November 8, 2016
The Effect Of Soil Fertility On Fusarium…
Ongoing research sheds light on the role soil health plays in the severity of the deadly pathogen in watermelon crops. Read More
Cucurbits
October 31, 2016
7 Squash And Cucumber Cultivars To Consi…
Get the lowdown on several of the latest varieties making a name for themselves in the marketplace. Read More
Cucurbits
October 27, 2016
9 Melon Varieties To Keep In Mind
View some of the latest watermelon and cantaloupe varieties making an impact on the market. Read More
Crop Protection
October 25, 2016
Vegetable Grafting Facility Gears Up For…
The Tri-Hishtil vegetable grafting facility in North Carolina hopes to double grafted plant production by next year. Read More
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
Georgia Whitefly Populations Explode, Tr…
Researcher says growers must be up-to-date on spray programs. Read More
Cucurbits
October 8, 2016
3,100 Pounds Of Marijuana Hidden In Cucu…
U.S. Customs and Border Protection made the discovery at the Otay Mesa cargo port in California. Read More
Crop Protection
October 3, 2016
Take Control Of Cucumber Beetles
Tactics to manage the pest of cucurbits include proper scouting, trap cropping, plus cultural and chemical controls. Read More
Cucurbits
September 25, 2016
10 Cantaloupe And Melon Varieties You Ne…
Browse this slideshow for more information on 10 cantaloupe and melon varieties you need to know about from the nation’s leading Read More
Cucurbits
September 21, 2016
Don’t Let White Grubs Gobble Up Yo…
Learn how to identify, the survival and spread, as well as management methods for this pest. Read More
Crop Protection
September 6, 2016
Purdue Entomologist Receives USDA Grant …
The goal of the research team is to help growers of cucurbits achieve effective pest control while protecting honeybees and other beneficial pollinating insects. Read More
Cucurbits
July 22, 2016
California Cantaloupe Growers To Celebra…
The Golden State’s cantaloupes are now in peak production from major areas in the San Joaquin Valley. Read More
Cucurbits
July 21, 2016
Study Shows Buckwheat Can Help Stifle Sq…
Unique cover crop choice attracts beneficial bugs, increasing pollination prospects and reducing insect threats. Read More
Crop Protection
July 18, 2016
Early Infection Of Downy Mildew Confirme…
The pathogen has been confirmed in Michigan cucumbers in Bay County for the 2016 season. Read More
Cucurbits
July 18, 2016
21 Pumpkin Varieties You Need To Know
Leading seed breeders and distributors highlight some of the latest pumpkin varieties available.   Read More
Cucurbits
June 14, 2016
Worry Spreading In Florida Over Exotic W…
UF/IFAS expert warns species likely to cause problems for growers. Read More
Cucurbits
June 2, 2016
23 Top-Notch Watermelon Varieties
Take a look at this slideshow for more details on watermelon varieties from the nation’s leading seed breeders and distributors. Read More
Cucurbits
May 25, 2016
Whitefly Threat Has Florida Growers On H…
Researchers, state agencies working together to prevent a potential outbreak. Read More