According to some media reports, the Mexican government may be considering banning imports of U.S.-grown melons, but U.S. shippers and officials could not confirm any such plans.
According to the reports, shipments could be stopped because of fears of melons contaminated with salmonella being exported from the U.S. to Mexico.
Owensville, Ind.-based Chamberlain Farms is the latest U.S.-based cantaloupe shipper to be linked to a deadly foodborne illness outbreak.
The Mexican government agency SENASICA does more intensive sampling of fruit from U.S. shippers that previously exported product that tested positive for foodborne illnesses, but no potential blanket actions against the U.S. industry as a whole have been reported, according to exporters.
Darren Van Dyke, salesman for Five Crowns Marketing, Brawley, Calif. and others said they haven’t heard about a blanket ban. If there is one, Van Dyke doubts if it’s based in science.
“My gut reaction is it would probably be more politically-based,” he said.
Brent Harrison, president of Nogales, Ariz.-based Al Harrison Co., who also had not heard of any Mexican threat to ban all U.S. melons, agrees.
“It would probably be in retaliation for the suspension agreement.”
Mexico and Florida are currently engaged in a dispute over the lifting of a suspension agreement governing the floor price for Mexican tomatoes shipped to the U.S.
In 2002, the FDA issued a countrywide import alert for Mexican cantaloupes following salmonella outbreaks in 2000, 2001 and 2002 traced to Mexican cantaloupes.