DINUBA, Calif.--()--The California cantaloupe industry joins with consumer advocates and government officials in calling on farmers, retailers, foodservice operators and distributors to examine their food safety systems and procedures to ensure that consumers are purchasing safe and healthy products.
As we and other cantaloupe producers throughout the country have been focused and continue to work even more diligently than ever to ensure we are producing a very safe and healthy product, a single southwestern Indiana cantaloupe producer who is currently involved in the Salmonella outbreak has endangered public health, imperiled our industry and many of our livelihoods.
This outbreak is especially concerning for California farmers because there has never been a foodborne illness outbreak associated with our product. Further, we have spent numerous resources over the last 20 years to strengthen food safety programs designed to ensure product safety. These expanded programs now include mandatory government inspection of farms and packing facilities to verify that science-based food safety standards are being followed and require that all shippers have the ability to quickly traceback and recall product if necessary.
Consumers can continue to buy cantaloupes with confidence simply by purchasing California product. Consumers can either look for a sticker on the fruit which states that it was grown in California or ask your produce manager for cantaloupes from California. Since California produces 60 percent of the cantaloupes grown in the U.S., plenty of product is available in the marketplace.
It is very important that consumers understand the commitment to food safety the vast majority of cantaloupe producers have and that the current outbreak is the result of one individual operation that did not follow these well-established safety practices for packing cantaloupe. However, more concerted efforts must be made by the produce industry and our government agencies to find these bad actors in order to protect consumers as well as the people who rely on the cantaloupe industry for their livelihood. It is our very strong belief that people who don’t share a commitment to food safety should not be in this business. Further, the California cantaloupe industry is calling on buyers to ensure that their suppliers are also committed to producing food in the safest manner possible.
More Information about California Cantaloupe Advisory Board’s Food Safety Program:
- The California cantaloupe industry is committed to protecting public health and assuring consumers we are producing a safe and healthy product.
- California cantaloupes have never been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak.
- For over 20 years the California cantaloupe industry has been actively conducting research and adopting practices based on the best available food safety science.
- Research has shown the hot, arid conditions where California cantaloupes are produced are not conducive to the development and spread of foodborne pathogens.
- Despite the fact they have never been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak, California cantaloupe producers and packers have adopted updated practices to enhance the safety of their product based on the knowledge learned over 20-years of conducting extensive research.
- In May 2012, 100 percent of the cantaloupe handlers in California voted to initiate the state’s first mandatory food safety program to be implemented by a commodity board. Through this program, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board will now include a food safety certification program that requires inspection by government auditors to verify a set of science-based production and handling metrics are being followed. This new program will make it an unfair trade practice for any California cantaloupe handler not to comply with the metrics.
- The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board is also a major contributor to the Center for Produce Safety, an organization charged with conducting research to improve the safety of produce. California cantaloupe producers have pledged a contribution of $200,000 to assist in funding this important research.
- For more information, please contact California Department of Food and Agriculture at (916) 798-3238.