Food safety efforts boosted by Traceback ability

FRESNO, Calif.

Melons picked on the Valley's west side face higher standards. The California Cantaloupe Advisory Board developed a stamp for every box of fruit.

Firebaugh grower Joe Del Bosque said the Traceback ability could come in handy if any food safety concerns arise. Del Bosque explained, "Every machine that is packing melons has a marker and every box is marked that tells who the shipper is. It tells what field it came from. It tells what date it was packed and which crew packed it."

Fresno County inspectors like Rosemary Davis test cantaloupes long before they reach your dining table. Davis said, "We look for quality, any defects such as decay, insect. We look for pack style."

Davis also bored holes into random melons to sample the percentage of the fruit's sugar content.

Fresno County Deputy Ag Commissioner Fred Rinder said, "For west side cantaloupes the minimum is 9%. Within the food and ag code it's 8% but west side wanted to be above and beyond."

Del Bosque said, "It establishes quality standards that are above state standards."

Del Bosque also said drip irrigation helps maintain dry field conditions here and keeps cantaloupes from being contaminated. "Dry soil is conducive to safe fruit."

Del Bosque added Traceback ability has become more important to the big retailers so more companies are adopting the safety measures.

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