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August 25, 2011
CORAL GABELS, Fla.Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A., Inc., a subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., filed a lawsuit Aug. 22, 2011, against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seeking a reversal of the agency's rule restricting the import of fresh cantaloupe into the United States.
The lawsuit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court of Maryland, claims the FDA rule adversely affects Del Monte Fresh's ability to receive perishable fresh produce for sale to its customers in the United States S., as the import alert threatens the viability of a major import source for cantaloupes.
Del Monte Fresh's claims are based on the FDA's (and several other state health agency officials') erroneous speculation, unsupported by scientific evidence, that cantaloupes previously imported by Del Monte Fresh from a Guatemalan farm and packing facility were contaminated with Salmonella. Neither the FDA nor any state health agency has offered evidence or data to support the FDA action.
The cantaloupes were grown and shipped from Del Monte Freshs farm Asuncion Mita in Guatemala. In March, Fresh Del Monte recalled nearly 5,000 cartons of Guatemalan cantaloupes after the FDA reported finding an epidemiologic link between the cantaloupes and about 12 cases of Salmonella Panama in seven states.
Commenting on the lawsuit, Dennis Christou, vice president marketing N.A. of Del Monte Fresh, said: Del Monte Fresh Produce, places the highest priority on food safety and protecting customers. We require all of our suppliers to comply with all FDA recommended food safety procedures, including the FDA's Guide to Minimize Microbial Food Safety Hazards for Fresh Fruits and Vegetables, as well as the FDA's Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures. The farm and packing facility at issue in this case was in full compliance with these food-safety procedures. The restrictions imposed by the FDA on Del Monte Fresh Produce's ability to import cantaloupes are unnecessary and not supported by the facts."
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