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Extension food safety specialist: Consumers can be confident about Indiana melon crop

Following the recall of pre-cut melon products sold in eight states - including Indiana - due to possible Salmonella contamination, Scott Monroe, Purdue Extension food safety educator, is reassuring consumers about the safety of the state’s melon crop.

“The recalled melons were grown elsewhere,” Monroe said. “The 2018 Indiana cantaloupe and watermelon crops are planted and growing in the southwestern part of the state, but are not yet ready for harvest.”

Indiana producers take food safety very seriously, he added.

“There are a variety of practices that reduce the risk of contamination at the farm level,” Monroe said. “Among these are testing irrigation water, use of sanitizers in wash water, and employee training programs.”

Amanda Deering, clinical assistant professor in Purdue’s Department of Food Science, noted that most Indiana watermelons and cantaloupes are produced on farms where food safety practices are monitored by third-party audits.

“Growers are audited annually to ensure that they are implementing and maintaining aggressive food safety programs on their farms,” she said. “In most cases, the requirements of the third-party audits are more stringent than current Food and Drug Administration guidelines.”

Monroe said Hoosier melon producers were looking forward to safe, bountiful crop.

“Our Indiana growers are doing everything they can to reduce the risk of on-farm contamination by a foodborne pathogen to the lowest possible level,” he said. “In spite of the recent recall, watermelon and cantaloupe lovers across the state will be able to purchase and enjoy Indiana melons with confidence once the 2018 crop is ready for harvest.” 

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