“We are putting together a program that is going to help people understand what the new FDA regulations on food safety could be like and how they could be affected. We will partner with NC Cooperative Extension Service to put on some seminars about this issue.
The new dean, Dr. Richard Linton, at NC State, and his expertise is food safety. So partnering with them and our division with food is a really good partnership.
Its been two years in a row that we had salmonella problem and then last year a listeria problem, so the NCDA is going to focus on some cantaloupe assignments where they will be coming out to look at cantaloupe processing to determine if there are more things that need to be done.
The thinking is that they are being contaminated from the outside in. They saw that listeria likes to grow in moist, cool conditions. So we may be creating that type of situation in the packing facilities. The contamination actually happens on the outside of the cantaloupe but when people handle it, or slice it there is the opportunity for contamination of the meat.
We think it may be a similar situation that we saw with the jalapeno peppers and tomatoes and that caused a big mess.
We will be holding seminars April 10th at the Cuttingham Lower Plain Research Station in Kinston, then on April 23rd at the Davison County Extension Center in Lexington. Both sessions will start at 8:30 and go till 5 PM. They are free and include lunch. We thank the NC Farm Bureau and Carolina Farm Stewards for their sponsorship.
We ask that people register by April 3rd, go to www.ncnhtd.com/nccateloupes . For more information you can contact Kristin Bachman at 919-733-7366. This is just the beginning of the program. We will eventually have teams that will go out and work with farmers and packers to identify things that they can do better.”