FOOD SAFETY

Arizona's fall cantaloupe harvest has just begun and, according to the Arizona Farm Bureau, the melon is safe to eat.

A recent deadly listeria outbreak traced to cantaloupes grown at Jensen Farms in Granada, Colo., have sparked concern as to whether fall cantaloupe are safe to eat.

"Typically, all of our growers in southern Arizona, where most of the fall cantaloupe is grown, follow a strict collection of food safety guidelines," said Kurt Nolte, Ph.D., Yuma County extension agent and director of the Yuma Agricultural Center. "Additionally, Arizona melons are grown using below ground drip irrigation, and very rarely get wet in the field. Listeria, and other dangerous microbes, tend to multiply in wet, moist environments. As another food safety precaution, Arizona-grown melons are field packed, and kept dry from field to fork."

More than 23,000 acres of cantaloupes are produced in Arizona, mainly in the spring. But in the fall, approximately 9,800 acres of cantaloupe are harvested.

Arizona Farm Bureau has confirmed with Bashas' Grocery Stores that they are identifying the growing source of their cantaloupe. If you cannot identify where the cantaloupe are from, ask your local grocery store's produce manager for information.

• Briefs compiled from staff and wire reports.

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