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FDA seeks info from Ind. farm tied to outbreak

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 3, 2013 at 7:29 pm •  Published: January 3, 2013

"Our concern is the safety of the food that leaves that farm, which they are responsible for," El-Hinnawy said.

The FDA announced in August that genetic testing on salmonella collected at the farm matched the "DNA fingerprint" of the salmonella strain responsible for this summer's outbreak, making it a source for at least some of the bacteria.

Gary Zhao, an attorney for Chamberlain Farms, said the farm was sending its response to the FDA's letter Thursday.

He said he could not comment on how the outbreak and subsequent investigation had impacted the farm financially, but Zhao said in a Thursday statement that testing by a microbiologist hired by the farm suggests the bacteria that caused the outbreak did not come from the farm's fields.

He said "overwhelming evidence" points to land adjacent to the Owensville farm's melon fields — and not the farm's packing facilities, equipment or operations — as the likely source of the bacterial contamination investigators found on the farm's cantaloupes.

Nonetheless, Zhao said the farm has decided not to grow cantaloupes this year and has already dismantled and disposed of its cantaloupe packing equipment. He said the farm has also tested well water used to irrigate its fields and upgraded the wells "to reduce the chance of any bacterium that may be present on the land contaminating well water."

Zhao added that the farm "will continue to work with the FDA cooperatively to further delve into the root cause and source of contamination so that lessons can be learned for the benefit of others who are later engaged in cantaloupe production."