Thursday, August 23, 2012

Worried about Cantaloupes at the coop? Don't be. Here is why.

First, and foremost, the coop is only carrying Organic Cantaloupes from New York State and Pennsylvania.  

We do not carry, nor have we carried, any Non-Organic Cantaloupes from Indiana or from North Carolina.  

So you can breathe easy, and know the health concerns, in regard to recalls, do not affect us.

Below is an excerpt from a newsletter put out by Albert's Organics (one of our largest produce suppliers) that might prove informative to those concerned about the widely publicized issues with Cantaloupes.   

In addition, you will find some helpful notes on both how to pick a good Melon and some tips on food handling. 

It’s been a tough road for Cantaloupes this season. There was the Listeria outbreak that was linked to melons from a North Carolina farm. Then, the Indiana outbreak that was likely caused by Salmonella found on cantaloupes from a farm in Indiana.

Despite these setbacks, cantaloupes remain a very popular summer fruit with California alone shipping over 10 million pounds of Cantaloupes each day. 

Here are some key points that are important to understand and important to share with your customers about Cantaloupes:

- One of the reasons that food safety challenges are greater with Cantaloupes is due to the netting on the rind – where pathogens can lodge (as opposed to the smooth surface on Honeydews) and the fact that they’re grown on the ground makes them more susceptible to contamination from bacteria from the soil, water or animals.

- Both retailers and consumers should examine their Cantaloupes carefully. Look for Melons that are free of blemishes, cuts, sunken areas or mold growth. There is typically an area on a Cantaloupe that is a lighter color than the rest of the melon. This is because that’s the area of the Cantaloupe that was resting on the ground. Check that particular area very carefully for cuts or blemishes.

- Pay particularly close attention to the blossom end of the fruit. This area can be a pathway into the Melon for pathogens that can actually get into the fruit of the Melon. It’s also a key area where mold can develop.

- Once the Melon arrives at a shopper’s home, where it lands is very important. If it was placed on a counter, it’s important to wipe that counter clean in case there are bacteria on the surface of the melon. If it goes into the refrigerator, it’s best to keep the melon from touching other foods.

- We typically don’t think about washing Cantaloupes, but it’s actually a very good idea. Use a sturdy vegetable brush with warm water and some pretty vigorous scrubbing. The scrubbing is important because the spaces within the netted rind on the Melon protect the bacteria and make it harder to remove any that might be there. Make sure the Melon is dry before you begin cutting into the fruit.

- These days, it’s a good idea to do slices without the rind attached. If you do want to keep the rind attached, make sure the rind does not make contact with any of the actual interior fruit.

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