In the last two years there have been more than 410 people sickened in the USA from contaminated cantaloupes (rockmelons), as well as 36 deaths. In 2011, Listeria made 147 people sick and killed 33, and then in 2012, Salmonella species were responsible for three deaths and 261 illnesses.
Although the cantaloupes responsible were not from California, that state’s trade suffered significantly as a result of the outbreaks.
Therefore to improve public confidence in their produce, from this season all growers in California are going to have to meet a checklist of 156 food safety related points to pass the auditing requirements of the new voluntary National Cantaloupe Guidance program.
The auditing must be done by inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture to provide consumer confidence through consistency and accountability.
Steve Patricio, a California melon producer and chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board (CCAB) said; “Beginning this year, California cantaloupe farmers and shippers of all sizes will be operating under the only mandatory food safety program that requires government audits of all cantaloupe production activities.”
This is an example of how whole industries and individual businesses can change to address consumer demands. It highlights that food safety is actually a combination of; consumer demands and actions, industry developments, legislative requirements and international trends.
This article was written by Rachelle Williams, The Green Food Safety Coach.