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Del Monte Sues FDA, More Than Just Cantaloupe At Stake

Del Monte Foods has sued the FDA over their decision to halt imports of cantaloupe from Guatemala, sending a wave of fear through food regulators.


Photo: Karen and Brad Emerson (flickr)

The effect of Del Monte's suit is much larger than cantaloupes -- it could adversely affect how regulators deal with food safety.

Del Monte Foods has sued the Food and Drug Administration for halting imports of cantaloupe possibly contaminated with salmonella from Guatemala.

Suits like this one are uncommon, but if successful, could negatively impact the efforts of food regulators to reduce contaminated foods. It could impact how food regulators conduct recalls.

“If this case is successful from an industry perspective, it will change the attitude of regulators. They will obviously be more reluctant,” food safety consultant and former FDA assistant commissioner David Acheson says.

The cantaloupe in question were traced using interviews and shopper’s card data to a single Del Monte farm in Guatemala. This method often means there is no need for a sample of the salmonella itself — difficult to come by in fresh produce.

Because of the lack of genetic evidence, Del Monte fired back at the FDA, Oregon Public Health, and its senior epidemiologist Dr. William Keene, stating they lacked the facts to support the damage the recall did to the brand.

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Liz Leslie

Liz Leslie is a journalist based in Chicago. When she's not writing about food, she's likely eating food. Or dreaming about food.

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