With the help of university experts and industry leaders, the National Watermelon Association has released the first edition of a watermelon-specific food safety program for farmers, packers, retailers and food service personnel.

Titled “Commodity Specific Food Safety Guidelines for the Fresh Watermelon Supply Chain,” the 50-page document is based on good agricultural practices and good handling practices.

Although the guidelines are voluntary, watermelon association executive director Bob Morrissey says he expects they'll eventually be incorporated into federal food safety legislation.

"With the advent of produce outbreaks due to food safety issues, there has never been a more important time for our industry to build on our growing and handling practices to provide a safe, healthy watermelon supply," Morrissey said in a news release.

The watermelon-specific guidelines are not the first to focus on one commodity within the produce industry. California growers have the leafy green metrics, and Florida growers have TGAPs—tomato good agricultural practices.

Unlike the watermelon and leafy green programs, which are voluntary, the Florida GAPS have been legislated into law.

To download a copy of the watermelon GAPs, click here.

To view other supporting documents, such as a farm self-audit or packer self-audit, visit the National Watermelon Association.

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