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"California cantaloupes have never been associated with a foodborne illness, yet the industry is unanimously in favor of a food safety program that will provide an additional layer of assurance for consumers that our product is safe," said Steve Patricio, chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board. "This program will formalize 20 years of food safety leadership by the California cantaloupe industry."
Patricio noted that California cantaloupe handlers, who represent 70 percent of the cantaloupes grown in the U.S., have been working all winter in preparation for the passage of these amendments. They have already taken steps to revise existing federally-approved food safety guidance for melons to make it specific to growing and packing conditions for California cantaloupe. The group has also been working to contract for science-based risk assessment, is funding research through the Center for Food Safety and has joined with other industry associations to develop international cantaloupe food safety guidance.
According to the announcement from the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board will now include a food safety certification program that requires inspection to a set of production and handling metrics and will make it an unfair trade practice not to comply with the metrics.
The action will affect all cantaloupes produced and marketed in the state, expanding from the previous order which included only cantaloupes grown to the north and west of the San Gorgonio Pass in Riverside County, California. With the approved amendment, growing areas in the southern desert district will be added to the program.
Source: California Department of Food and Agriculture
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