Food Safety: On-site Training Plan Needed for Farmers

The industry’s reaction to the Jensen Farm cantaloupe issue seems reminiscent of a scene from the Keystone Cops. It is an example of our ability to “capture the cow” and indiscriminately blame someone instead of focusing on how to “keep the barn door shut”.

The FDA stated a need for the cantaloupe industry to align its practices with it’s “Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables,” (click here to read more) and the corresponding guide for “Fresh-cut Fruits and Vegetables” (click here to read more). The Western Growers and United Fresh Produce Association reviewed existing research on cantaloupe safety to determine the most effective measures in preventing contamination. (click here for more information) These possible solutions, in my opinion, do not address one of the core issues.

No mention is made of the immediate need to develop an on-site training plan for growers in applying systems that can minimize the risk of these dramatic occurrences no matter the size of the operation. They need help. These growers, whether they have two or two hundred employees, should be looked at as a manufacturer of food that supplies to a global marketplace. This requires disciplined adherence to global good agricultural practices and food safety standards. This is how members of the supply chain can work to “keep the barn door shut” with a plan that prevents the “cow” from escaping in the first place!

Submitted by Michael Pearsall, Director of Food Safety Services, UL DQS Inc.