CALIFORNIA cantaloupe board adopts food safety guidance
Posted: June 15th, 2012 - 12:12pm
Source: The Packer
The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board has approved food safety guidelines and plans to begin audits this year in the San Joaquin Valley.
The Dinuba, Calif.-based board is relying largely on existing guidance for the commodity. It must now seek U.S. Department of Agriculture approval of an audit checklist.
“The goal is to have it done as soon as possible,” said John Gilstrap, advisory board manager. “I don’t think we’ll have it by the first harvest but we definitely want it done this season, which lasts until fall.”
It’s the state’s first mandatory food safety program implemented by a commodity board, established in May by grower-shippers. The board met in San Diego June 6.
Bakersfield cantaloupe production starts in late June; in Huron, early July. San Joaquin Valley production runs to early October. Imperial Valley returns for its second deal of the year in the fall, and will also participate in the audits.
Assessments are raised from 1.2 cents per carton to 2 cents to help pay for the program, Gilstrap said.
The checklist metrics will be subject to revision during early informational audits, which allow handlers to understand program requirements and to offer their input, board chairman Steve Patricio said in a news release.
The board plans a path similar to that of the California Leafy Greens Marketing Agreement and California Tomato Farmers, using California Department of Food and Agriculture auditors certified by the USDA. Pending approval of metrics, handlers will use private inspectors to meet buyer food safety requirements.