Food safety: Cantaloupe guidance process is under way

May 14, 2012

The industry collaborative working on updating food safety guidance specific to cantaloupe is holding weekly conference calls instead of trying to meet regionally.

They’ve also launched a new website where the public can view documents and progress.

All told, leaders will participate in about 15 phone sessions. Stakeholders from throughout the industry call in each week to discuss topics related to avoiding future contamination outbreaks. Discussions are likely to include irrigation, water, hygiene, sanitation, equipment, handling, pest control, transportation, recall procedures and records.

“The industry has developed a number of guidances over the past few years,” said David Gombas, United Fresh senior vice president for food safety and technology.
“Our initiative here is to come up with a guidance document that is most appropriate for the cantaloupe
industry. What we’re talking about is a document that is going to be voluntary, science-based and specific.”

It will also have to be flexible so that it can be applied to growing and handling processes not just in the U.S., but around the world, Gombas said. The intent is to provide operators at every step in the supply chain guidance to use in tailoring their own food safety programs.

A facilitation team is composed of Gombas, PMA Chief Science and Technology Officer Bob Whitaker, Western Growers Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning, Science and Technology Hank Giclas and Allison Moore, communications director, Fresh Produce Association of the Americas. They will help shepherd the process “in a way that essentially results in a product at the end of the day that can be used by the entire industry,” Giclas said.

The group hopes to have a draft document by Aug. 1. To check out current status, click here.


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