Recently, Burch Farms began a recall of this season's crop of honeydew melons, which were discovered to be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes (L. mono).
Subsequently, on August 13, FDA officials announced that the company had expanded its recall to include all of the cantaloupes and honeydew melons grown this season.
Neither fruit was included in the grower's existing product traceability programs, but the cantaloupes can be identified by stickers that read "Burch Farms" and "PLU #4319." However, the melons being recalled are not tagged with any form of identifiable labeling and were shipped in cases that were only marked as containing "fresh melons."
Jim Burch, the owner of Burch Farms, asserts that the entire crop went to wholesalers. The fruits in question were sold to distributors from June 23 to July 27 in Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Virginia, Vermont and West Virginia.
However, because the company has not expanded its traceability system to include its melons and cantaloupes, further data on distribution is not available. The FDA warns that the infected fruits may have been passed on to various retail stores, restaurants and food service facilities in other states.
To date, no illnesses have been reported that are linked to consumption of these contaminated fruits. However, the case still clearly shows the value that implementing traceability systems has for stakeholders in the food production and distribution industry.
With an effective traceability solution in place, Burch Farms would be capable of tracing the path taken by each shipment after it left the facility, which would allow the company to alert all vendors who handled the fruits.