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Posts Tagged: cantaloupe

Colorado cantaloupe listeria outbreak affects California growers

A listeria outbreak in Colorado last fall resulted in 30 deaths and more than 146 illnesses.
The Colorado farm linked to a deadly listeria outbreak last fall is 1,300 miles away, but the tragedy changed a way of life in Mendota, Calif., the Central Valley farm town that proudly calls itself the Cantaloupe Center of the World, said an article in the Los Angeles Times by Diana Marcum.

This would normally be the season when farmers plan the summer crop that in good years is valued at nearly $200 million, according to the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board. Instead, they are cutting acreage and scrambling for ways to reassure a nervous public that cantaloupes are safe to eat.

This month the UC Center for Produce Safety will host a closed-door symposium in San Diego for cantaloupe growers, shippers, agricultural researchers, government regulators and others to create guidelines for best growing practices.

"The main question will be, 'What are the gaps in our knowledge?'" said Bonnie Fernandez-Fenaroli, executive director of the UC Davis-based center. "Do we need to do research or is it a matter of the cantaloupe industry implementing and enforcing best practices?"

UCCE director in Tulare County takes Kings County reins
Lewis Griswald, Fresno Bee News Blog

Tulare County UC Cooperative Extension Director Jim Sullins will also be director of the Kings County UCCE office. Longtime Kings County UCCE director and 4-H youth advisor Peggy Gregory retired at the end of the year. She served 37 years with the University, including 20 in Kings County.

Grape growers fend off thieves, pests
Fresno Business Journal

Pests and thieves can cost grape growers a great deal of money and headaches. That’s why the two issues were addressed along with other important topics at the UC Cooperative Extension San Joaquin Valley Grape Symposium held Wednesday in Easton.

UCCE viticulture farm advisor Stephen Vasquez gave an update on glassy-winged sharpshooters and Pierce's disease. He said that recent catches of sharpshooters are concerning since they have been found near a major riparian corridor that has had a historically low level of Pierce’s disease.

Posted on Friday, January 6, 2012 at 10:14 AM

Food safety specialist addresses cantaloupe guidelines

Suslow said that the FDA does not make a definitive statement on a single safe method for postharvest handling of cantaloupe. Photo from the Postharvest Technology of Horticultural Crops
An article in The Denver Post by Michael Booth and Jennifer Brown discussed the possibility of criminal charges against Jensen Farms for its involvement in the cantaloupe listeria outbreak. The article discusses the history of legal charges made in food poisoning cases,  including issues of willful negligence.

Trevor Suslow, UC Cooperative Extension food safety specialist at Davis, was told by the farm owner that they believed the postharvest system used in conjunction with the outbreak was an improvement over their previous methods — though Suslow disagrees. He acknowledges, however, that the FDA does not make a definitive statement in its growing guidelines on the safest method of cleaning, cooling or packing cantaloupe.

Agricultural program helps keep youth out of gangs

An Associated Press article by Gosia Wozniacka profiles volunteer work by Manuel Jimenez, UC Cooperative Extension farm advisor in Tulare County. The article was published by news outlets such as the Fresno Bee, San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News, Fox News, CBS News, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and others.

He and wife Olga teach life skills and farming techniques to youth on a 14-acre garden in Woodlake, Calif.

"We want to grow kids in our gardens, because we've seen what violence, drugs and alcohol can do," Jimenez told the reporter.

The article also includes comments from youth volunteers in the program, past and present.

"Everything Manuel did was interesting to me," said Walter Martinez, who is now a UC Cooperative Extension field assistant and also served as a volunteer at the garden through middle and high school.

Posted on Tuesday, November 22, 2011 at 9:46 AM
Tags: cantaloupe (4), food safety (31), garden (69), listeria (2), Manuel Jimenez (11), postharvest (1), Trevor Suslow (6), volunteering (1), youth (3)

Cantaloupe's rough skin can hide microbes

Microbes can be hard to remove from the rough skin of cantaloupe.
In a New York Times story about the listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado, Trevor Suslow, a Cooperative Extension specialist at UC Davis, explained how bacteria can adhere to the melon's rough skin. Reporter William Neuman quotes Suslow as saying, “You have these tremendous hiding places, if you will, nooks and crannies, lots of areas for microbes to get in and attach and hide.”

Posted on Friday, September 30, 2011 at 6:19 PM
Tags: cantaloupe (4), listeria (2)

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