Food safety regulators put US cantaloupe growers on notice after outbreak deaths

“In the event of adverse findings, we will take action as needed to protect the public health,” Landa wrote.

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The increased scrutiny comes as FDA is working to enact a pair of sweeping proposed rules that represent the biggest food safety overhaul in more than 70 years. But the new regulations, now in a recently extended public comment phase, are many months off.

In the meantime, the agency is intent on avoiding a repeat of the last two seasons. The agency responded to two major outbreaks traced to fresh cantaloupes in 2011 and 2012.

Subsequent investigations revealed “multiple findings of insanitary production, handling conditions, and practices in packinghouses,” Landa wrote.

In addition to the inspections, FDA will also target cantaloupes coming into the United States from across the border, according to the letter, sent to to firms that grow, harvest, sort, pack, process or ship the melon.