A report today detailed the call of Associate Professor Larry Goodrige of Colorado State University for famrers to take the lead on food safety. His words have particular importance in light of the fact that the deadliest outbreak of foodborne illness in U.S. history was traced to cantaloupes contaminted with Listeria grown in the state of Colorado. Goodridge is a professor with the Center for Meat Safety and Quality in the Department of Animal Sciences. He was quoted saying:
“Each farm or processing facility has to be able to assess their own risks,” Goodridge told the governor’s annual forum on Colorado agriculture in Denver. “Everybody who produces food has to be responsible for the safety of the food they produce. You cannot rely on third parties. You just can’t.”
Both the FDA and a Congresional committee were critical of not only the growers and distributors of the cantaloupe (Jensen Farms and Frontera Produce) but also the firms that were supposedly auditing them – Primus and Bio Food Safety.
Goodridge shared his thoughts on these subjects as well:
Goodridge said that growers who hire auditors often are looking for a thorough assessment of how they are running their operations — but that the auditors might instead perform generic walk-throughs.
He urged farmers to focus on sanitary practices such as keeping equipment and storage areas clean. He also urged them to educate the public on ways to safely handle produce in the same manner as consumers are advised how to safely handle meat.