Fresh Del Monte is suing the Food and Drug Administration to ease restrictions placed Guatemalan cantaloupe imports in the U.S. this summer.
One the largest U.S. cantaloupe importers, Del Monte Fresh, a subsidiary of Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., stated in a news release that the FDA’s actions “threatens the viability of a major import source for cantaloupes.”
In the release, Del Monte Fresh takes on what it calls “erroneous speculation, unsupported by scientific evidence” made by the FDA and state health agency officials that the cantaloupes Del Monte imported from a Guatemalan grower were contaminated with salmonella.
The company filed the lawsuit Aug. 22, after the FDA issued an import alert on July 15.
The cantaloupes were grown at Fresh Asuncion Mita Guatemala. In March, Fresh Del Monte recalled Guatemalan cantaloupe after the FDA reported finding an epidemiologic link between the cantaloupes and about a dozen reported cases of Salmonella Panama.
“In fact, neither the FDA nor any state health agency in the U.S. has offered evidence or data to support the FDA action,” Fresh Del Monte officials said in the release.
In the release, Dennis Christou, Del Monte’s vice president of marketing, said the company requires suppliers to comply with FDA-recommended food safety procedures, including the agency’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,” Christou said in the release. “The restrictions imposed by the FDA on Del Monte Fresh Produce’s ability to import cantaloupes are unnecessary and not supported by the facts.”
Del Monte Fresh is seeking an immediate injunction to resume imports.