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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Victims of Listeria Outbreak to be excluded from meetings on Cantaloupe Safety

cantaloupe_frontera.jpgAppalling seems to be the right word.

I was hopefully reading Joan Murphy’s article in Produce News Daily, “Dates set for industry meetings on new cantaloupe guidance document,” until I read the last line of the article:

The meetings are open to growers, buyers, auditors, academic experts, as well as regulators from state agencies, the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are not open [to] the public.

I mean, why the hell would the public be invited – especially the victims?  Really, why even bother with the 146 sickened and the 36, yes, not 30 or 32, who died?  What might the families impacted by the deadliest foodborne illness outbreak in the United States in the last 100 years have to say?  I wonder how inconvenient it would be to look consumers in the eye.

The people attending the meetings – especially public servants – should demand that the families be present and offered an opportunity to speak about just how important the jobs of the “growers, buyers, auditors, academic experts, as well as regulators from state agencies, the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture” truly are.

The meetings will be held on:

  • March 29-30, Phoenix
  • April 26-27, Western Growers Association headquarters in Irvine, CA
  • May 30-31, Southeast region
  • June 20-21, Denver

 Call me.  I will give you the phone numbers of people very interested in what you are talking about.

  • Paul F Schwarz

    Bill, I am afraid the fix is in. All the ‘insiders’ will be attendance. I hope I am wrong, but this will probably will be a sham. The growers will say that stricter guidelines will cost more money. The auditors will say that stricter auditing will cost time and money. The buyers will say that stricter guidelines will result in less profit. State regulators will say that they don’t have the resources to enforce stricter guidelines. The FDA and USDA will talk a good game, but by the time the lobbyists for the growers, auditors and buyers get to congress stricter guidelines will be watered down. A tea party congressman will do a one minute speech about ‘big government’ intruding on these poor growers lives and excessive regulations!
    Do I sound cynical? You bet I do! Do I hope I am wrong? I truly hope that I am wrong! Would I like to go to one of these meetings? Yes I would!
    Bill, Did you receive an invitation?
    Section 51 Row 1 Grave 3

  • Karla Jones

    My mother-in-law, Marie Jones was one of the 36 who lost her life. I would very much be interested in what they have to say. Please feel free to release my phone number or any other contact information you have for myself or any member of our family.

  • I was asked by email from someone I respect in the industry why I thought having consumers at these meetings would be important or useful. Here was my response:

    I know that none of my clients have anything productive to say in how cantaloupe can be grown safely. However, I think it would be important to those that do, to understand first hand how important it really is. I have two families who lost husbands, fathers and grandfathers who between he two of them had three purple hearts from fighting in the South Pacific in WWII. Yet they died of cantaloupe in 2011 and 2012. I have young family whose child was born three month premature and is still on a feeding tube with risks of multiple complications in the future.

    I think those people should have a place at the table.

  • Sam

    Government of the people, by the wealthy, for the wealthy. Welcome to the new world order comrades. This makes me want to puke.

  • Tamara

    The government agencies should not participate if these meetings are private! What happened to Obama’s transparency promise ? I feel very bad for those of you who lost loved ones and are now forced to suffer this additional insult. I know I would be very angry.