Don’t bring me down; California cantaloupe growers going government way, want state marketing order

Is government inspection better at ensuring safe produce?

Steve Patricio, Chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, provided the following statement today during a Cantaloupe Food Safety press conference:

"The California cantaloupe industry has never been associated with a foodborne illness outbreak. However, in the past 20 years, the California cantaloupe industry has invested in research to ensure our growing, harvesting and packing practices are the safest possible. We were the first commodity group to work with government agencies, scientists and food safety experts to craft Commodity Specific Guidance for Melons and we are 100 percent committed to continuing work to improve the existing guidance and to funding new priority research projects that will lead to a safer product for consumers.

"In keeping with the leadership position we have always taken with respect to food safety, the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board is pledging today to move forward to establish a mandatory state marketing order with government oversight to focus on food safety in the production of California cantaloupe. We are asking for and anticipate participation from other western cantaloupe producing regions and we hope that other cantaloupe producers around the world will follow our lead."

"We are taking this step for two reasons — first because it is the right thing to do. Consumers must be assured that our products are safe. Additionally, it was made clear by the participants at yesterdays Center for Produce Safety working symposium that the trade is demanding nothing less than a program based upon mandatory government inspections. The California cantaloupe industry intends to quickly act and to have such a program in place prior to the coming harvest season."