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Melon Farmers React To Salmonella Case
Updated May 5, 2013 12:11 AM | Filed under: WBIW News
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(PARKE COUNTY) - Pearson's Melon farmers finish picking their fresh fruit for the day before heading out to sell it at the market.

Gina Glaros of WTHI reports, Pearson's Melon farmers finish picking their fresh fruit for the day before heading out to sell it at the market.

It's cantaloupe season, and it's winding down.

However, there's a whole new problem on the farm now.

Some growers face an unexpected stigma: the salmonella trouble in southern Indiana.

"Anytime there is a food safety issue, it'll affect us because everyone, the growers and the consumers both know that there's a risk. We try to just communicate with our people to help them understand that we're doing everything we can to make sure it's safe," Pearson's Melon Farm Co-owner Patsy Steffen said.

Owners Ken and Patsy Steffen haven't had any problems with their cantaloupes.

However, they said some of their customers are still curious.

"I will think twice about buying them in a grocery store because I don't think they have near as nice a handling as they do as the local stands would have," Gary Claypool said.

They know most of the folks that pass through well and say their customers trust their judgment.

"You can never really be 100 percent sure than you're not going to have it. But you can do everything you can to avoid it," Steffen said.

Employees go over their fields two or three times a day to eliminate anything that could cause problems.

They said the most important rules are cleanliness: both for the growers and customers, as well as minimal lag time from the field to your table.

"Cantaloupes that we picked today will go to our stand and most of them are sold in one day and we tell them, take them straight home, wash them, peel them, put them in the refrigerator right away," she said.

It's a concern striking too close to home for many of us, leaving customers in the search for a trusted salesperson.

Pearson's Melon Farm reports very little business loss caused by the scare.

Fortunately, they also said they avoided problems caused by the drought because of the use of their irrigation system.

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