Del Monte Fresh Produce, N.A. Inc., is taking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to court.
The subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. filed suit on Aug. 22 in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland to seek an injunction that would lift an FDA rule restricting the importation of fresh cantaloupes into the United States.
Del Monte Fresh is one the largest importer of cantaloupes into the U.S. The melons are farmed, processed, transported and stored under state-of-the-art food safety controls that exceed FDA regulatory requirements.
Del Monte Fresh’s claims are based on the FDA’s and several other state health agency officials’ speculation that cantaloupes previously imported by Del Monte Fresh from a Guatemalan farm and packing facility were contaminated with the pathogen Salmonella. Neither the FDA nor any state health agency in the U.S. has offered evidence or data to support the FDA action.
”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,” said Dennis Christou, vice president marketing, N.A. of Del Monte Fresh.
The FDA’s actions adversely affect Del Monte Fresh’s ability to receive perishable fresh produce for sale to its customers in the U.S., as the import alert threatens the viability of a major import source for cantaloupes. Since significant resources and commitments must be finalized immediately to ensure Guatemalan cantaloupes will be ready for harvest in the near future, Del Monte Fresh is seeking immediate injunctive relief from the court.