August 28, 2014

NCDA&CS to offer N.C. cantaloupe pilot program

RALEIGH — The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is partnering with N.C. State University Cooperative Extension to offer the N.C. cantaloupe pilot program.

The two-pronged education and outreach program will consist of a seminar in the classroom and voluntary assessment on the farm. The goal is to help cantaloupe producers develop strategies for reducing the risk of food contamination and for handling such incidents if they occur.

The NCDA&CS Food and Drug Protection Division, Marketing Division and N. C. State Cooperative Extension will conduct the seminar April 10 at the Cunningham/Lower Coastal Plain Research Station in Kinston and April 23 at the Davidson County Center in Lexington. Both sessions will take place from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The seminars are free and include lunch and refreshments, sponsored by N.C. Farm Bureau and the Carolina Farm Stewardship Association, respectively. Registration is required by April 3. Register online at www.ncmhtd.com/NCCantaloupe.

“The seminar will cover a variety of food safety topics specifically for cantaloupe producers, including sanitation, water, equipment, environmental sampling and validation,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The program will also cover recovery and restoration strategies after a food contamination event, and I encourage growers to participate.”

The on-farm outreach portion is voluntary and will provide an assessment of the farming operation to help identify potential concerns with regard to future federal food safety rules and regulations. “The N.C. cantaloupe pilot program’s voluntary assessment serves as a means to help reduce potential contamination,” Troxler said.

For more information, contact Kristen Baughman at 919-733-7366 or kristen.baughman@ncagr.gov.

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