The U.S. Food and Drug Administration confirmed that the outbreak of listeria monocytogenes in cantaloupes is associated with a single grower-shipper in Colorado and is a result of the unsanitary practices in the packing shed. The FDA emphasized the critical importance of preventive controls and stated the practices and conditions observed in this single facility are not indicative of the industry at large. This is a terrible tragedy for all those who have been sickened or who have succumbed to this foodborne illness.
“The recent tragic outbreak of listeria associated exclusively with a single cantaloupe packing facility in Colorado should not have happened,” said Tom Nassif, president and CEO of Western Growers. “We are confident that California and Arizona cantaloupe producers have the controls and preventive practices in place to ensure the safety of the over 45 million cases of cantaloupes, 85 percent of the total U.S. volume, grown in this region.”
California and Arizona cantaloupes are produced using the most stringent food safety programs in existence in the industry. Strict controls of production, harvest and packing processes have been developed on the foundation of more than two decades of research and millions of dollars in industry investment to establish the strongest preventive practice programs for this region's bountiful melon crop.
As a trade organization committed to food safety in fresh produce and improving food safety programs and industry knowledge throughout the industry, Western Growers will continue to work with others to improve, develop and extend new information and controls. This includes working to ensure that strong preventive programs are in place in melon operations across the country.