Header graphic for print

Food Safety News

Breaking news for everyone's consumption

Burch Farms Cantaloupe Recall Affects ‘Caribbean Gold,’ Not ‘Athena’

Burch Farms has corrected the variety of cantaloupe subject to its recent recall due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination: Instead of the ‘Athena’ variety identified in the original recall and its subsequent update, the variety actually under recall is named ‘Caribbean Gold.’

Athena cantaloupes are not subject to recall, the company said. The correction is not an expansion of the recall.

No illnesses have yet been reported.

The company has recalled 13,888 cases (9 cantaloupes per) and 581 crates (110 cantaloupes per) containing 188,902 melons in all.

Burch Farms expanded its recall from an original 580 cases after a U.S. Food and Drug Administration inspection discovered “unsanitary conditions” at the company’s packing shed.

The original recall of 580 cases came on Saturday, July 28. With this correction issued sometime on Friday, August 3, consumers went six days with incorrect information about the variety of cantaloupe posing a Listeria risk.

“They don’t look anything alike and the whole Athena connection certainly delayed accurate consumer advisories,” said Trevor Suslow, Ph.D., extension research specialist for the UC Davis Center for Produce Safety.

In an email to Food Safety News, Suslow said that the Caribbean Gold variety’s long shelf-life could easily mean some cantaloupes are still sitting in home refrigerators.

The whole Caribbean Gold cantaloupes shipped between July 15th and July 27th to FL, GA, IL, MD, ME, NC, NJ, NY, PA, SC and VA.

The cantaloupes are identified by a red label reading “Burch Farms” referencing PLU #4319. All cantaloupes involved in the recall were grown by Burch Farms, though some may be identified with a “Cottle Strawberry, Inc.” sticker referencing PLU #4319. Cottle Farms is not involved in this recall.

Customers are urged to discard any cantaloupes possibly connected to this recall.

Unlike Athena cantaloupes, which fall from the vine when ripe, Caribbean Golds must be cut during harvest.

Caribbean Golds appear more coarse and rounded:

Athenas appear lighter and show prominent grooves:

Faison, NC-based Burch Farms’ recall comes 11 months after Listeria-contaminated Rocky Ford cantaloupes grown by Jensen Farms in Holly, CO sickened at least 147 people and killed at least 33, becoming one of the deadliest foodborne illness outbreaks in U.S. history.

The cantaloupes’ possible Listeria contamination was discovered through routine testing by the Microbiological Data Program (MDP), a produce testing program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that accounts for approximately 80 percent of fruit and vegetable testing conducted in the U.S.

Slated to lose funding by the end of July, the $4.5 million/year program’s budget was temporarily extended through the end of the year in mid-July, likely due to heightened media attention following a report by Food Safety News reporter Helena Bottemiller.

Food Safety News will continue following this recall as the story develops.

© Food Safety News