(Nov. 30) Hawaii could join Thailand as a shipper of irradiated mangosteens and other tropical fruit to the U.S.

On Nov. 14, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced its plans to open up mainland markets to irradiated mangosteens, dragon fruit, breadfruit, jackfruit, melon and fresh moringa pods grown in Hawaii, said spokeswoman Melissa O’Dell.

The USDA will receive comments on the proposal until Jan. 14 before making its final decision, O’Dell said.

In January, mangosteens will start coming into the U.S. in volume from Thailand, following a July USDA ruling.

In 2006, the USDA gave the green light for irradiated mango shipments from India.

Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Los Angeles, Calif.-based Frieda's Inc., expects the approval process to be expedited, given the outrage among Hawaiian growers who have been trying to crack the U.S. market for years — only to see Thailand get approved ahead of them.

“Once Thailand got approval, Hawaiian growers went ballistic,” she said. “I don’t know when fruit will begin coming in, but I would imagine that the USDA will work very quickly on this.”

Thailand was approved before Hawaii, O’Dell said, because Hawaiian growers wanted the option of treating fruit with a lower dose of irradiation than Thai growers.

That dose, called a 150 gray dose, required a more detailed pest risk analysis and the development of further mitigation measures for pests not killed by that lower dose, O’Dell said.

Thai fruit must be treated with a higher dose of irradiation, called a 400 gray dose, she said.