The 2009 California cantaloupe
crop should reach about 20 million cartons, but not all of that fruit will
go directly from grower-shippers to retail and foodservice.
“We spend most of our
budget on surveillance work with counties to stop gunnysacking thefts,”
said Jerry Munson, manager of the California Cantaloupe Advisory Board,
Stolen cantaloupes often
turn up at roadside stands, but some thieves take the fruit to the Los
Angeles Wholesale Product Market, he said.
“We never have any
arguments from our board about spending the dollars for the surveillance
program,” Munson said.
The alliance with the
staffs of county agriculture commissioners has proved to be beneficial.
The men and women who do
the inspection work are the same people who do the surveillance work for
the advisory board, Munson said.
The partnership has put
an end to most of the theft, he said.
Some of the board’s budget is going to a joint food safety
project with the California Melon Research Board, Dinuba, Munson said.
The two boards funded research last year that found pathogens do not reach the
flesh of cantaloupes even when the fruit is irrigated with water containing
This year’s research aims to reinforce last year’s findings.
Salmonella-bearing cantaloupe rinds are a particular sore spot for
California grower-shippers because the state has not experienced a pathogen
episode, Munson said.
“Our problem is
cantaloupes coming in from other countries,” he said. “By the time the
public hears about it, we’re in the middle of our season and it kills our