The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will start inspecting cantaloupe packinghouses, specifically targeting Listeria, during the 2013 growing season to assess current industry practices and identify unsanitary conditions that may result in consumer health risks.
The agency will also continue to target imported cantaloupes at the border for sampling and may “engage in other surveillance and inspection activities as circumstances warrant” to protect public health.
“The cantaloupe industry has made tremendous strides in addressing food safety priorities and this FDA inspection program will demonstrate that,” said United Fresh President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Stenzel, in a statement. “It’s imperative that every produce industry operation shows the highest commitment to food safety.”
United Fresh is one of the country’s largest fresh fruits and vegetables trade associations.
It said new food safety resources are available for the cantaloupe industry, including the availability of the National Commodity-Specific Food Safety Guidelines for Cantaloupes and Netted Melons. Released this month, this guidance was developed cooperatively by many industry stakeholders and provides a modern framework for production, harvest, post-harvest and handling of cantaloupes, United Fresh said.
The guidance can be downloaded for free