burch_farms_logo.jpgCoral Beach of the Packer is on the Listeria Cantaloupe trail today.

Unsanitary Conditions and Positive Listeria Test

Burch Equipment LLC, doing business as Burch Farms, originally recalled about 5,200 cantaloupes July 28 after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Microbiological Data Program (MDP) found listeria on one melon at retail during a random sampling.  The grower expanded the recall to include 188,900 cantaloupes Aug. 3 and corrected the variety from athena to caribbean golds. That expansion came after the FDA revealed it had found “unsanitary conditions” at the Burch packing shed.  Listeria contamination has been confirmed at the Burch Farms melon packing facility in Faison, N.C., according to the Food and Drug Administration.  In an update posted on its website late Aug. 13, FDA officials said the listeria finding spurred Burch to expand its recall to include all cantaloupe and honeydew melons shipped this season. No illnesses have been reported in relation to the recalled melons.

No Audit and No Traceability

Burch spokeswoman Teresa Burch said it has not had its cantaloupe operation audited by a third party for food safety practices, and although the company has traceability programs for other items, there is none in place for its melons.

Primus Labs Audit – Not for Cantaloupe

Burch said he uses the sanitizer SaniDate in his packing facility’s water. According to the Burch Farms website, the operations are audited by PrimusLabs.  PrimusLabs in-house counsel Ryan Fothergill confirmed that the company has audited the leafy greens processing and field operations at Burch Farms but not the cantaloupe operation. Fothergill said Primus records show its staff was last at the Burch operation in March.

Can you believe this is less than one year after the deadliest Listeria outbreak linked to cantaloupe?

Let’s hope no one gets sick and thank the MDP.