Industry addresses cantaloupe safety
Members of the cantaloupe industry met in mid-January with researchers, regulators and food safety professionals to discuss food safety as it relates to netted melons — both domestically produced and imported.
The group identified three “outcomes,” or areas to focus on to achieve the highest level of food safety for cantaloupes:
Identify key knowledge gaps that need immediate and long-term action
Re-examine and refine existing cantaloupe-specific food safety guidance
Conduct outreach and training in the industry
“While the Center for Produce Safety is swiftly responding to the need for research in its soon-to-be released request for proposals, industry trade associations were charged with the task of meeting the other critical objectives,” according to a letter from Bob Whitaker, Produce Marketing Association’s chief science and technology officer.
The letter stated that a group of trade associations, including Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association, Produce Marketing Association, Texas Produce Association, United Fresh Produce Association and Western Growers, came together to work on the areas of guidance and education. The organizations formed two steering committees and charged them with developing processes and timelines for deliverables in these areas that were constructed to ensure accessibility, inclusiveness, transparency and timeliness.
The steering committee for guidance will be working together on the development of commodity-specific guidance for netted melons. The committee is committed to delivering a final netted-melon-specific guidance document to the industry by the end of July, according to Whitaker’s letter.
A steering committee for extension, education and outreach also was organized to ensure the food safety effort involves as many stakeholders as possible. This committee will work with the guidance committee to maximize the reach of information.
Learn more about the industry’s efforts at http://cps.ucdavis.edu and www.pma.com.