UPDATED: FDA warns of listeria threat in Burch Farms cantaloupe

07/30/2012 12:07:00 PM
Coral Beach

The recall was expanded Aug. 2 to include more than 188,000 cantaloupe. For additional details please see: FDA finds unsanitary conditions at Burch Farms packing shed.

logo for Burch Farms, Faison, N.C.(UPDATED COVERAGE, July 31) The Food and Drug Administration issued a public warning against eating cantaloupe from Burch Farms, Faison, N.C. The grower voluntarily recalled 580 cases of whole Athena cantaloupe because of possible listeria contamination.

The farm issued the recall through the Food and Drug Administration July 28. No illnesses have been reported. Listeria was found during a random test sample, according to the recall notice.

FDA issued the public warning at about 6 p.m. EDT July 30, warning retailers that the cantaloupe was packed in sweet potato cartons.

"Cantaloupes from the North Carolina firm tested positive for (listeria) following sampling carried out in New York, as part of sampling conducted through the USDA Microbiological Data Program," the FDA warning states.

The FDA warning also states that although the cantaloupes were initially sent only to New York and Maine, it is "likely that the melons were distributed in other states."

A woman answering the phone at Burch Farms July 30 said no additional details were available other than those in the FDA recall notice. She said it was not known where the sample was taken.

According to the recall notice, Burch shipped the cantaloupe July 15 and distributed to retail stores in the Northeast U.S. The whole cantaloupes have oval-shaped red labels with the words “Burch Farms” and product lookup codes of 4319.

Hannaford Supermarkets, Scarborough, Maine, issued a separate recall notice for the Burch Farms melons for its customers. The chain has 181 stores in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont.

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Dianne Bentley    
Lane, Oklahoma  |  July, 31, 2012 at 08:34 AM

This is why local people should only buy local grown cantaloupe from local farmers. Organic cantaloupe we do not use chemicals on our local grown cantaloupe, Go to your local Farmer Market , learn to ask questions, and support your local farmer who knows their produce.

Sunbury,Pa  |  July, 31, 2012 at 08:50 AM

Buying local would be just fine but the problem is you can't buy local all year round.So my suggestion is that you only eat the local produce when you can get it.Which means you can only eat local during the summer month's and that will leave you quite a few month's when you can't eat healthy

California  |  July, 31, 2012 at 10:22 AM

This is neither a local nor organic problem and any argument to the contrary is uninformed. This is a matter of food safety and dereliction of duties as a grower, packer, shipper, distributor and BUYER of fresh produce. Go ahead and support your local interests, but both Jensen Farms ( 2011) and Burch Farms (2012) were local growers. For the record, organics pose the same if not more food safety issues as traditionally grown produce and many vendors at Farmer's markets are buying their products from local suppliers and hold themselves out as the grower!

salinas, CA  |  July, 31, 2012 at 10:40 AM

It's too bad that comments like this show how uninformed the consumer is. This comment would never be made if the facts were known. Buying local is not a cure for contamination. They have just as good a chance of getting a pathogen as anywhere else and these outbreaks have nothing to do with conventional vs organic production practices.

Scottsdale, AZ  |  July, 31, 2012 at 11:49 AM

We have handled product for Burch Farms for over one decade and found consistenty that their company is prudent in all aspects of their business. Their quality has been consistent in quality in all the years we have worked with them. We have had very few quality issues (rejections) of product in the many hundreds of loads we have tendered for their company. The owners and employees are very contientious of their jobs and the responsibilites it entails. The issue of Listeria is not a reflection of their business operations.

California  |  July, 31, 2012 at 12:11 PM

No trace back program and Athena cantaloupes packed in sweet potato boxes. Both fundamental flaws in food safety protocols!

PA  |  August, 01, 2012 at 11:09 AM

Actually, organic makes it much higher risk. Careful research shows it is a contributing factor to many of the recalls. In fact, if you do a google search on Burch farms, you'll find that they recently were certified organic for sweet potatoes. And if you look carefully (above) you'll see that the canataloupe was packed in.... yes, sweet potato cartons. The previous scare, Jensen farms didn't advertise their lopes as organic, but if you search carefully you'll find images of those lopes that show they were labeled 'no spray' or something that clearly indicates that Jensen was in the 3-year prep stage for organic certification.

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