Produce Food Safety Services (PFSS) and the Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Growers Association (GFVGA) have responded to recently issued recommendations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about microbial contamination of cantaloupe.
Released in April 2023, the report details an investigation of a Salmonella Typhimurium outbreak linked to cantaloupes that occurred during July–September 2022. According to the groups, there is a disconnect between the findings described in the outbreak investigation report and the actual work of FDA to prevent foodborne illnesses by sharing data with the businesses involved, helping the them realize potential issues, and pointing them to potential people and organizations who could help.
The groups state that this and other recent FDA reports have conducted investigations on adjacent lands several miles from the farms and packing houses subject to the investigations. The reports also put emphasis on inconsistent adherence to or deviation from existing standard operating procedures (SOPs) and food safety programs. The groups call for collaboration between stakeholder groups and Congress to ensure fair and reasonable treatment of farmers.
When changes to farm management practices differ from written SOPs and food safety programs, it is essential that companies update their plans, the groups explain. Even if a new practice results in an improvement in food safety, variance from the plan could lead to regulatory actions against the farm, therefore, actual practices and written SOPs must be in alignment.