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Webinar will help cantaloupe growers prepare for upcoming FDA packinghouse inspections

The Georgia Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association is sponsoring a web seminar to help cantaloupe growers prepare for inspections from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in the wake of new safety regulations that came about following deadly foodborne illness outbreaks traced to cantaloupe in 2011 and 2012.

The webinar will show growers and shippers how to prepare for and what to expect during an FDA visit.

The session is set for May 9 from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. There is no cost for members of either GFVGA or the Eastern Cantaloupe Growers Association; there is a $50 fee for non-members. Registration and more information is available at www.gfvga.org.

The FDA recently released a sternly worded letter to U.S. cantaloupe growers urging voluntary cooperation with safety regulations and promising agency inspections and a tightening of current standards.

"With the release of the Food and Drug Administration letter to the U.S. cantaloupe industry, a line has been drawn about safe cantaloupe handling," said GFVGA Executive Director Charles Hall. "This initiative does not need to be taken lightly. FDA is initiating inspections of cantaloupe packinghouses in the United States and will be performing microbial sampling."

The webinar will cover:

  • What happened in previous cantaloupe outbreaks?
  • What is FDA most likely looking for?
  • Where will FDA likely inspect?
  • How and where will FDA likely take microbial samples?

The session will be hosted by Michelle Danyluk of the University of Florida Institute of Food & Agricultural Science, and will provide insight into what the FDA inspections entail and how packinghouses can prepare.

"The cantaloupe season begins in Florida before the season in Georgia so we have the opportunity to gain insight from the Florida FDA inspections before they begin in Georgia and elsewhere," Mr. Hall said.