FDA begins inspecting cantaloupe operations

05/09/2013 04:38:00 PM
Coral Beach

Danyluk gave numerous tips on what FDA inspectors will likely do based on a round of inspections at tomato facilities in 2007.

Danyluk’s advice is to clean and sanitize all packinghouse areas. She said inspectors would probably swab hard-to-clean spots on equipment that would be easy to reach with a cotton swab but difficult to keep clean.

Both Danyluk and Oleson stressed the importance of having written procedures for cleaning and sanitizing. They also said it is important to document cleaning and sanitizing as separate activities, as well as recording when the action was taken.

“Last year Burch Farms could not show a clean break between different lots (they packed) and that caused them problems,” said Danyluk, referring to a listeria-related recall that ended with a North Carolina grower recalling all cantaloupe and honeydew melons last year.

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Georgia  |  May, 10, 2013 at 12:19 PM

SGE can offer water treatment systems and sanitation washers to help with this issue. There is a solution available to help. Call SGE to see how we can help with sanitizing your packing house or facility.

florida  |  May, 10, 2013 at 12:31 PM

I wonder if they send a bill for the inspection fee. And are there fines associated with changes needed or do they just shut you down until you comply?

Florida  |  May, 10, 2013 at 02:34 PM

Mike, to my knowledge, the first inspection is free(tax-payer funded). If problems are found that require immediate attention, then any required follow-up inspections would be charged to the company. Usually, when FDA or USDA takes samples from our cooler, they offer to purchase the samples at fair market value. Of course, the few dollars they pay is nothing compared to the damage they cause due to the holding of entire lots. They take multiple weeks or sometimes months to send you your test results, even when they detect problematic bacteria. All of the fresh produce spoils and must be thrown away during this time. Some lots can contain multiple thousands of bushels of produce. They essentially create unwarranted financial hardship that can be devastating to any farm trying to turn a profit during these times.

Arizona  |  May, 10, 2013 at 05:05 PM

Personally, I think intentionally reducing the amount of product packed and stored results in an inaccurate assessment of an operation. How can an auditor fully comprehend what is going on there if you are not following the status quo? The status quo is where errors and mistakes are more likely to be found. Doing less is not a fully accurate picture. The reason for the audits and inspections should be to protect the public health and the growers and vendors from unnecessary lawsuits and not to be sure you have a clean audit. Do it the right way, train, train, train and train again your employees. Make sure they know the reason why these changes are made and why they have to wash their hands 50 times a day. I have a compromised immune system due to diabetes and kidney failure. I don't want to think that a melon that comes into my home is going to make me sick and possibly kill me. I have 3 kids under the age of 12. The oldest also has Type 1 diabetes. If the attitude of the industry is only to pass an audit, then perhaps I won't be buying any melons again. Thank you.

California  |  May, 13, 2013 at 01:00 PM

Agree 100% with Vance. Use these audits as a free opportunity to improve the sanitation levels of your facility. I consider each auditor to be a Free Employee and it brings our sanitation department to a First Class operation. Show me what needs to be improved and we will follow that path.

florida  |  May, 17, 2013 at 02:14 PM

I grew up eating fruit and vegetables grown on chicken and turkey and cow manure. We never got sick, we ate dirt, we drank out of water hoses and swam in ponds. Our soils are alive with ecoli and the like. We have more testing now than we ever did, yet the problems seem to get worse every year. Is our society to sanitized now? Are we damaging our bodies every year we are alive because our country is being sterilized to death? Are these outbreaks like everything else in the media being blown out of proportion and to bolster the government programs funding levels?

AZ  |  May, 20, 2013 at 10:26 AM

Our food supply is safer than ever. Food-borne illnesses are at ridiculously low levels. What has changed is our ability to identify trends and patterns of illnesses making it easier (not EASY) to identify the source. Before there was mass-media and hyper-media, people would get sick but not be able to relate their own sickness to a larger pattern of sickness, now called an "outbreak." Because there is now form and association with these illnesses, it is easier to publicly identify both the cause of the illness (specific pathogen) and often times the source of the product (this aspect of the process still needs quite a bit of work).

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