COLLEGE PARK, Md. — The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, working with state and local agencies, has issued a letter to the cantaloupe industry — all along the supply chain from grower to shipper — to reiterate warnings that safety practices must be followed closely as the growing season gets underway.
The FDA’s letter recalls details of two large outbreaks last year that resulted in more than 400 people becoming ill, and that resulted in at least 36 deaths from contamination from harmful pathogens, including strains of Listeria and Salmonella, associated with cantaloupes.
Signed by Michael M. Landa, director, FDA’s Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition, the letter sends a twofold message to the industry: Best practices known to be effective in reducing the risk of harmful contamination must be followed, and the FDA will be making inspections throughout the growing season of packing houses to assess practices and identify conditions that could compromise the safety of cantaloupes.
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The letter, in part, reads: “As we move forward over the next few years with implementation of the produce safety provisions of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA), it is essential that the cantaloupe industry and the produce industry in general, observe best practices already recognized by FDA and the industry as effective in reducing the risk of harmful contamination.”
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