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Mike Horrall

Keeping produce safe and free of pathogens like Salmonella is important to Mike Horrall, owner of Melon Acres farm in Oaktown, Ind. Purdue Extension hosted a melon safety event that helped Horrall and other growers learn what it takes to prevent foodborne illnesses

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Food safety expertise benefits melon grower, consumers

Mike Horrall is proud that his Melon Acres farm in Oaktown, Ind., has a long history of providing safe produce to customers. Horrall, whose farm produces cantaloupes, watermelons, and other crops on about 3,000 acres, credits Purdue Extension with helping him and other producers maintain safe agricultural practices.

Horrall was among melon producers who attended a Purdue Extension daylong workshop in Vincennes following an outbreak of Salmonella traced to cantaloupesfroma southern Indiana farm. Registration for “Melon Food Safety — 2012 and Beyond” was so overwhelming that the organizers had to move the meeting to a larger site to accommodate the more than 100 producers seeking information crucial to helping prevent foodborne illnesses.

“The big message I got from it was that methods for food safety are changing and we all have to change in growing, processing, and storing our produce,” Horrall said. “Purdue Extension provides the resources in getting that done.”

Food safety experts from Purdue Extension, the Indiana State Department of Health, and other organizations gave educational presentations about Salmonella and practices that producers should follow to ensure high standards for food safety on their farms.

“The information that was shared in the meeting was a big help in keeping us headed in the right direction, not only about things we shouldn’t do but, more important, about what we should be doing,” Horrall said. “I felt a lot better for the future of the cantaloupe industry in Indiana after that meeting.”


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