DINUBA, Calif. — California cantaloupe handlers have voted to amend the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board to create a new, more comprehensive food safety program.
In a statewide referendum, 100% of handlers voted in favor of the action, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. The amended board will affect all cantaloupes produced and marketed in the state, expanding its previous coverage of only particular growing regions.
"California cantaloupes have never been associated with a foodborne illness, yet the industry is unanimously in favor of a food safety program that will provide an additional layer of assurance for consumers that our product is safe,” said Steve Patricio, chairman of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board, in a statement to the media.
While California cantaloupes have not been implicated in any foodborne illness, the public’s attention was brought to cantaloupes last year when an outbreak of listeria-related illnesses was traced to cantaloupes grown in Colorado.
Patricio noted that California cantaloupe handlers, who represent most of the cantaloupes grown in the U.S., have already taken steps to revise existing federally approved food safety guidance for melons to make it specific to growing and packing conditions for California cantaloupe. The group also is working with the Center for Food Safety and other industry associations.