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Control of Cross-Contamination during Field-pack and Retail Handling of Cantaloupe


Following recent melon-associated foodborne outbreaks, California cantaloupe growers voluntarily developed and implemented commodity-specific food safety guidelines for the safe handling of cantaloupes and other netted melons. While this document details best food safety practices to reduce the risk of contamination during production, packing, and distribution, science-based metrics describing transfer coefficients for pathogen contamination onto melons during field-packing operations are needed. Cross contamination is a known food safety risk in many environments, and is dependent on many variables, including transfer surface, commodity surface, and contamination level. Cross contamination was highlighted by the Food and Drug Administration as a critical factor contributing to recent cantaloupe-associated outbreaks. To date, no published literature evaluating the cross-contamination potential of whole melons has been established under typical field-packing conditions. Furthermore, there is a lack of data on handling practices related to cross-contamination risks for melons in the retail distribution supply chain, as well as guidance on the safe and uniform handling of melons throughout the retail environment. Through this proposed project, potential cross-contamination points likely to increase risk will be identified, and intervention strategies targeted to reduce the occurrence of pathogen transfer events during the handling of melons at harvest and retail will be developed.

Danyluk, Michelle; Chapman, Benjamin; Strawn, Laura
North Carolina State University
University of Florida
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
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