Not worth the liability; NC cantaloupe farm positive for Listeria done with melons

Burch Farms finished its cantaloupe season July 27 after the Food and Drug Administration posted a recall notice after random testing detected the listeria in the cantaloupe; the FDA later found listeria at the company’s facilities.

Jimmy Burch, co-owner of Burch Farms, told The Packer the risk isn’t worth the reward.

“We’re done. No more cantaloupe,” Burch said Aug. 29. “That part of our life is over with. We will let someone else raise the cantaloupe. We have already towed the equipment out of the building. It’s not worth the liability.”

A grower-shipper of sweet potatoes and greens, Burch said his operation packed cantaloupe in a separate packing line three miles away from its headquarters.
Cantaloupe constituted 1% of Burch’s sales, he said.

“It’s over,” Burch said. “No one’s sick, thank God. It has been an absolutely horrible experience.”

Saying Listeria resides in dirt in every acre of land all over the world, Burch said there’s no way to pack cantaloupe 100% free of contamination.

“It’s a time bomb,” he said. “It will happen again. This is a part of nature. It’s just a matter of time when there will be another outbreak somewhere.”

A table of cantaloupe-related outbreaks is available at

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A former professor of food safety and the publisher of, Powell is passionate about food, has five daughters, and is an OK goaltender in pickup hockey. Download Doug’s CV here. Dr. Douglas Powell editor, retired professor, food safety 3/289 Annerley Rd Annerley, Queensland 4103 61478222221 I am based in Brisbane, Australia, 15 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time