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Eastern Plains Cantaloupes Arrive In Groceries, A Year After Scare

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – Rocky Ford cantaloupe arrive in Colorado grocery stores Friday, and farmers want consumers to know the melons are safe.

More than 30 people around the nation died last year from cantaloupe tainted with with listeria. The FDA traced the deadly bacteria to a a farm in Holly causing Colorado’s melon farmers to take a financial hit.

That prompted some farmers to come together and create the Rocky Ford Growers Association.

But consumers will find fewer of those cantaloupe because farmers cut back on how many they grew, worried the melons would end up rotting in fields or on store shelves.

“In a business move, we just decided to plant less cantaloupe,” said Gary May with May Farms outside Byers.

Farmers say the listeria scare kept consumers from buying cantaloupe from anywhere.

Farmers in the Rocky Ford region took steps to restore consumer confidence even though their farms are 90 miles away from that farm in Holly that sold the contaminated cantaloupe.

“They’ve spent so far, $800,000 building this new shed and this new cleaning system,” explained Diane Mulligan who represents the newly formed association. “It has a has a new air cooling system in it and all these things that will just what they are doing.”

The association says the Rocky Ford Cantaloupe has 125 year perfect safety record.

The farmers say it’s important to scrub all fruits and vegetables before eating them.

King Soopers gets the Rocky Ford cantaloupes Friday, and they will arrive at Safeway, Walmart and Whole Foods on July 20.

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