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FDA Found Food Safety Problems At Chamberlain Farms Before Recall

Before Chamberlain Farms recalled its cantaloupe crop on Aug. 22, inspectors out of Detroit for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were already finding the Owensville, IN grower  had problems.

And most were discovered a few days before that recall, according to the just released form 483-inspection report from FDA.  Here the summary of those inspections by FDA’s Meisha R. Waters:

1.”During the inspection I observed, indications of poor sanitary practices demonstrating contamination in the firm’s cantaloupe packing shed through environmental swabs and product samples which tested positive for Salmonella as follows:

– “During this inspection on 08/16/2012, cantaloupes were collected from the 21-acre field located at Old 65 and Co Rd 525 W and tested positive for Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Typhimurium.

-“During this inspection on 08/16/2012, cantaloupes were also collected from a cardboard bin after processing in the packing shed and tested positive for Salmonella Newport.

– “During the inspection 08114/2012, environmental swabs were collected from various locations and surfaces throughout the packing shed. 7 of 50 environmental swabs tested positive for Salmonella Newport. 2 of 50 environmental swabs tested positive for Salmonella Anatum.

2. “Food contact surfaces are not constructed/designed in a manner to allow for appropriate cleaning: 
On 08/14/2012, while cantaloupes were being processed, I observed, porous food contact surfaces including carpet and wood used throughout the cantaloupe processing line which does not allow for adequate cleaning. Apparent rust and corrosion on multiple pieces of equipment throughout the processing line was also observed.

3. “Failure to clean as frequently as necessary to protect against contamination of food: 
 On 08/14/2012, while cantaloupes were being processed, I observed, multiple locations of the conveyor including rollers and belts, had an accumulation of black, green, and brown buildup. There was an accumulation of debris including trash, wood, food pieces, standing water, mud, dirt, and green buildup observed beneath the conveyer belt in the cantaloupe packing shed.

4. “On 08/14/2012, while cantaloupes were being processed, I observed, standing water in the packing shed on the floor directly below the first  conveyer belts of the packing line and on the drip table, which is below the bristle conveyer belt where cantaloupes are being washed and rinsed. This water appeared to have algae growing in it.

5. “The processing water line is not constructed in such a manner as to prevent food contamination: 
 On 08/ 14/2012, while cantaloupes were being processed, I observed the pipe used to supply well water into the dump tank and spray nozzles over the conveyer belt were leaking and appeared to have an accumulation of rust. This water comes into direct contact with the cantaloupe as they are traveling along the processing line.

6. “The firm was not monitoring the effective levels of the chlorine sanitizer in the water contained in the concrete dump tank of the cantaloupe processing line, nor could firm management provide monitoring records to that effect.

7. “Failure to remove litter and waste that may constitute an attractant, breeding place, or harborage area for pests, within the immediate vicinity of the plant buildings or structures:

“On 08/14/2012, the firm’s garbage receptacle (located on the outside west wall of the packing shed approximately 15 from the processing line) was overflowing with garbage. The north and south sides of the processing shed do not have a wall and is exposed directly to the outside environment.”

In addition to its cantaloupe recall, Chamberlain Farms by early September was forced to also recall its watermelons.   The cantaloupes and watermelons from the southern Indiana farm are now associated with:

-A total of 270 persons infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Typhimurium (240 persons) and Salmonella Newport (30 persons) have been reported from 26 states.

-The number of ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Typhimurium identified in each state is as follows: Alabama (16), Arkansas (6), California (2), Florida (1), Georgia (9), Iowa (10), Illinois (26), Indiana (24), Kentucky (70), Massachusetts (2), Maryland (1), Michigan (6), Minnesota (5), Missouri (15), Mississippi (7), Montana (1), New Jersey (2), North Carolina (7), Ohio (6), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (2), South Carolina (5), Tennessee (8), Texas (2), and Wisconsin (6).

-The number of ill persons infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport identified in each state is as follows: Illinois (8), Indiana (9), Michigan (1), Missouri (6), Ohio (3), Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (2)

-101 ill persons have been hospitalized. Three deaths have been reported in Kentucky

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