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The points of contact between Rutgers Cooperative Extension Service and the grower & business communities are the NJ County Agricultural Agents. The agents are a tremendous source of information for both new and experienced growers. Visit your local county extension office.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Lessons Learned from the Colorado Cantaloupe Listeria Outbreak

This month in Cultivating Cumberland (November 2011), Dr. Wes Kline goes over lessons NJ growers can learn from the Colorado Listeria outbreak in Cantaloupes. For his full article, click "read more."

1. That a food borne outbreak can happen on any farm. It does not mean just California or Florida. Every grower needs to assess their operation and see where there may be potential problems. Even if you do not need a third party audit do a self assessment.

2. Food safety needs to be a team effort. Everyone in the operation must buy into the need for food safety. Jensen Farms had a third party audit before the recall, but an audit is only as good as the farm wants it to be. Anyone can clean up the packinghouse for the day of the audit then go back to the “old ways”. It is time everyone makes food safety an important part of their culture in the operation!

3. Water was a big factor in this outbreak. Make sure you have your water tested for the packinghouse and that it is potable (drinking standards).

4. Treat the water used in packing on the packing line. The water may be potable from the well, but what if fruit comes in contaminated? The contamination can spread to other fruit during grading and packing.

5. Monitor the disinfectant used during packing. Depending on the disinfectant monitoring times vary. Check to make sure you are using the best way to monitor. If using Chlorine it is important to check pH and concentration on a regular basis (at least every hour).

Read the full article