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Produce Processing | March 1, 2019 | by Melanie Epp.
In September 2011, Jensen Farms in Colorado found itself in the thick of the very nightmare every food processor dreads. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with public health agencies in several states, had traced a serious listeria outbreak back to Jensen’s Rocky Ford cantaloupes.
The outbreak, caused by Listeria monocytogenes infections, affected 147 people in 28 states, 33 of whom did not survive. Not only did the outbreak lead to the company filing for bankruptcy, but it ended up costing the entire industry nearly $40 million in damages as well. It’s the kind of news no food processor wants to wake up to.
Looking deeper, the CDC found that the likeliest source was a truck parked next to the packing plant that had been used to haul waste cantaloupes to a nearby cattle operation. Listeria harbors in standing water and could have easily spread from employee footwear to plant floors to conveyors and other packing equipment. Upon closer inspection, the CDC found that equipment was not only in a state of disrepair, but also difficult to clean and sanitize.
Today’s food processors are constantly under the gun to reduce the risk of outbreaks and improve food safety standards. Working together can lead to overall improvement. As Stout pointed out, even though the food processing sector is highly competitive, food hygiene should not be an area of competition. Working together will help to minimize risk for the public — and each other.
Read the full article at ProduceProcessing.net.