The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board (CCAB) has launched a new food-safety program that requires government audits of all cantaloupe production activities. Described by CCAB as “the only mandatory food-safety program that requires government audits of all cantaloupe production activities,” the program invites government auditors to inspect all aspects of operations including growing, harvesting, packing, and cooling to ensure that a set of “science-based standards is being followed.” Under the program, handlers must be 100 percent compliant with food-safety audits that cover 156 checkpoints. According to California melon producer and CCAB Chair Steve Patricio, CCAB will use inspectors from the California Department of Food and Agriculture instead of private inspection companies to ensure accountability, uniformity and consistency of audits throughout the California cantaloupe industry.
Patricio also noted that the new audit program will allow producers to meet or exceed requirements of the Food Safety Modernization Act when it is implemented and that cantaloupes that have been approved through the program will bear a certification seal.
The program is reportedly part of an effort to restore consumer confidence in the cantaloupe market, which is still recovering from the 2011 Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado. See CCAB News Release and The Denver Post, June 12, 2013.