Remember that massive cantaloupe recall in July? There were no illnesses (unlike the deadly cantaloupe outbreak in August). In the July recall, 580 crates of melons were pulled off the shelves because of possible listeria contamination. And now the farm that grew those melons, Burch Farms, is quitting the cantaloupe business.
Farm co-owner Jimmy Burch says the recall was an "absolutely horrible experience." After that first recall, the FDA found "unsanitary conditions" at Burch Farms and expanded the recall from 5,200 melons to 188,900 (yeowch!) and included honeydew melons. So yeah, that must have been rough. But Burch says the next melon contamination outbreak is just waiting to happen.
Regardless of the unsanitary conditions allegedly found on the farm, Burch says he followed all the safety guidelines. It's a classic he-said-they-said situation, and by the way, that FDA investigation was ongoing as of last week. But Burch says because listeria resides in dirt, it's just impossible to avoid 100 percent of the time. "It's just a time bomb. It will happen again. This is part of nature. It's just a matter of time when there will be another outbreak somewhere."
Umm, okay ... thanks for the warning? Geesh, that's kind of dark. I guess that would explain why there was another cantaloupe outbreak just weeks later. But it sounds like the takeaway from this is, oh well, eating is dangerous, whattaya gonna do? SHRUG. It's not like we can cook cantaloupe. Washing the rind helps other melons, but the netted rind of a cantaloupe is like a pathogen motel that allows contamination to slink through into the flesh.
Seriously, we can't do better than this? I guess not, given how common recalls and outbreaks are. But it seems like if we can send a rover to Mars, we should be able to produce cantaloupes without making people sick. Or should we just give up on the fruit? (No way!) By the way, cantaloupes were just a tiny part of Burch's business. He's still growing greens and sweet potatoes.
Do you trust food producers to send out clean, safe food?
Image via News 21 - National/Flickr