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Sen. Bennet: Rocky Ford cantaloupes best tasting in the country

CANTALOUPE--Sen. Michael Bennet bites into a Rocky Ford cantaloupe at Hirakata Farms, where he highlighted the work of local producers as well as the increased safety of Rocky Ford cantaloupes. (Courtesy photo.)

Colorado U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet is reminding consumers that Rocky Ford cantaloupe farmers have strengthened their food safety procedures and are still producing the best cantaloupes the country has to offer.

"During my recent trip to Rocky Ford, I had the opportunity to taste some of the best melons in the world," Bennet said. "Thanks to the Rocky Ford Growers Association, we can be even more confident that Colorado producers are taking the steps they need to create a delicious and safe product. If you haven't had a Rocky Ford Cantaloupe, try one."

In early August, Bennet toured the cantaloupe warehouse at Hirakata Farms in Rocky Ford, where he highlighted the work of local producers as well as the increased safety of Rocky Ford cantaloupes.

Farmers in and around Rocky Ford took proactive steps to protect against future outbreaks and to restore public confidence in their product. The producers formed the Rocky Ford Growers Association that trademarked Rocky Ford Melons and made upgrades to equipment and food processing facilities. They also hired a full-time safety manager and established a strict process by which the melons are handled from the fields to the grocery store. The melons will also be packed with special codes that retailers can scan using a smartphone to learn more about where they originated.

"Not only are Rocky Ford cantaloupes a staple snack in homes in Colorado and around the country, but the great tasting melons are an important driver of the regional economy and a point of pride for Coloradans," Bennet added.

To learn more about the Rocky Ford Growers' Association and its safety procedures, please visit http://rockyfordgrowersassociation.com. Steps you can take to safely prepare your cantaloupes can also be found under the Commitment to Safety tab on its website.

Date: 9/17/2012

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