Colorado cantaloupes return; growers push safety


GLENDALE | Colorado cantaloupe growers are promoting new safeguards as Rocky Ford melons return to grocery stores a year after a deadly listeria outbreak killed 30 people nationwide.

Farmers near the Colorado town of Rocky Ford are trying to restore the sweet melon’s reputation. They have banded together to trademark the melons and fund a new $800,000 tracking system to prevent future outbreaks.

A new group called the Rocky Ford Growers Association is also promoting safe-handling techniques on the social media sites Facebook and Pinterest.

The farmers say they’re trying to salvage a crop decimated by sales declines after last fall’s outbreak. They say only 30 percent of the area melon fields have been planted this year.

Several lawsuits are still pending against the farm identified as the source of the outbreak.