Food safety message remains critical to produce imports

12/16/2011 01:29:00 PM
Andy Nelson

The Mexican papaya quarantine was unfortunate, but the industry could learn valuable lessons from it, said Homero Levy de Barros, president of Plantation, Fla.-based HLB Tropical Food.

“We feel bad for those that had to go through that, but the good thing is it will force growers to be more professional,” he said.

The outbreak will likely weed out growers who aren’t willing to get their food safety programs up to snuff, Levy de Barros said.

Importers of Central American cantaloupes are still smarting from the hangover effects of the listeria outbreak traced to a Colorado cantaloupe shipper in September, said Lou Kertesz, vice president of sales for Plantation-based Fresh Quest Inc.

Central American shippers are doing everything they can to regain consumer confidence, Kertesz said.

“The offshore industry has taken every precaution necessary,” he said.

And it could pay off. Kertesz expects markets to rebound in December, and Fresh Quest looks forward to strong holiday pull this year.


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