Purdue Extension aiding melon growers in food safety

By Keith Robinson
June 11, 2013

Purdue Extension continues to help Indiana melon growers produce the safest food as possible after an outbreak of salmonella last year, scheduling workshops that will provide information they will need to prepare for expected federal inspections.

Following the outbreak of salmonella traced to a southwest Indiana cantaloupe producer in 2012 and an outbreak of listeria in Colorado the previous year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has announced that it will inspect cantaloupe operations nationwide. Inspections are expected to include sites in Indiana.

The goal of the workshops, to be held during the week of June 17, is both to provide information concerning food safety as it relates to packing lines and packing houses and to help cantaloupe growers prepare for inspections, said Scott Monroe, agriculture and natural resources Extension educator in Daviess County.

"Beyond that, we want to help ensure that they are producing the safest and most wholesome product in Indiana as possible," he said.

The workshops, open to all cantaloupe and watermelon growers, are being held in Jackson, Knox and Posey counties to reach as many growers as possible, Monroe said.

Producers can obtain more information about the workshops by contacting their county Extension office.

The workshops are among many Purdue Extension activities benefiting the cantaloupe industry as well as all produce growers in Indiana.

A daylong meeting was held in January in Vincennes on the topic of produce safety for those involved in the cantaloupe and watermelon industries in Indiana.

Purdue Extension in March, through the Southwest Purdue Ag Program, arranged and hosted training in PrimusGFS, audit protocol most producers use, for growers in Southwest Indiana.

Purdue Extension also continues to promote food safety and Good Agricultural Practices - accepted industry principles known as GAPs - to all produce growers in Indiana. Extension does this through the Food Safety for Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Issue Based Action Team, commonly referred to as the Produce Food Safety IBAT.

The team, consisting of Purdue Extension educators, Extension specialists, and representatives of the Indiana State Department of Health and industry, is focused on presenting information on food safety education. It has developed curriculum and offered workshops statewide.

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