At Fresh Summit, Watson reminded mango producers and importers that board activities are limited by federal law. He said the board is working with the FDA to develop the GAPs, which should be available to the industry by winter 2013.
During his Fresh Summit presentation, Watson said the commodity survived the recall with the support of retailers and the responsibility demonstrated by Larry Nienkerk, general manager of Splendid Products, which recalled the mangoes.
Despite the recall, and daily alerts from retailers and other companies pulling the fruit from distribution, Watson said the mango industry remains strong.
Watson praised retailers who stocked fruit through the recall. He said their support and the quick action taken by Splendid Products to voluntarily recall the mangoes.
Although Watson maintained an upbeat theme in his presentation, he admitted that the recall had taught the industry some tough lessons.
“I know now that there are things I would have done differently,” Watson said. “We could have been two or three days faster getting information out. The PLUs were a mess.”
Many consumers and mainstream news reporters were confused about the Price Look-Up codes listed initially by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency early in the recall. The mango board issued statements explaining that the PLUs relate to varieties and sizes of mangoes and not specific brands, but media reports had already done the damage.
One member of the audience said the confusion about the PLUs caused many in the mango industry to lose money unnecessarily because customers didn’t understand only one brand was involved in the recall. Watson apologized and said that the mango board is reviewing possible alternatives to avoid such confusion in the future.
Staff Writer Coral Beach contributed to this article.