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Regulators cracking down on cantaloupe farmers

Published On: Feb 26 2013 08:14:17 PM CST

Rocky Ford Growers Association Hopes it will help boost consumer confidence

DENVER (AP) - Federal regulators are offering help to state inspectors, warning cantaloupe farmers and packers that they will be testing melons for pathogens this year after two years of illness and recalls.

The warnings were issued Monday following a listeria outbreak traced to Colorado's Jensen Farms that killed 33 people in 2011. Another outbreak last year was traced to salmonella at an Indiana cantaloupe packer.
    
The Denver Post reports the Food and Drug Administration does not routinely target an industry for scrutiny, and inspectors usually check smaller farms or food packers once every few years.

The Rocky Ford Growers Association President Michael Hirakata welcomes the inspections and hopes it will boost consumer confidence.

"We wouldn't feed anything to you, that we wouldn't feed to our own family," Hirakata said.

The Association started in 2001 to protect the reputation of their melons.

It has built a new sanitary packing plant as a response to safety concerns.  The farmers have also implemented new training and inspection practices.

A list of their safety measures can be found on its website, Rocky Ford Growers Association.

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