The federal government will inspect every cantaloupe operation in the U.S. this year, and Purdue Extension is trying to get Indiana growers ready.
The Food and Drug Administration announced the inspections recently as part of their response to a pair of bacterial outbreaks.
Purdue Extension agent Scott Monroe says this will affect all cantaloupe growers. “The FDA is, as we understand it, doing inspections and spot checks during the 2013 season in an effort to establish a benchmark and to evaluate where we are as an industry and what’s going on,” Monroe says.
Salmonella from cantaloupes grown at Chamberlain Farms in Owensville was linked to two deaths in Kentucky and more than 170 illnesses in 21 states last year.
That outbreak happened a little more than a year after listeria linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado caused 33 deaths across 28 states.
Monroe says his office will conduct workshops for all melon growers later this month to help them prepare for the inspections.
The workshops will be held in Jackson, Knox and Posey Counties. Monroe says they will also provide information concerning food safety as it relates to packing lines and packing houses.
Producers can find out more about the workshops by contacting their county Extension office.