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After 30 Days, FDA Has Not Inspected Mexican Mango Facilities

Just 30 days ago, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) was depicted as the tip of the spear in the “fast-moving “outbreak investigation of a Salmonella Braenderup outbreak associated with Mexican mangoes.

Within 24 hours, one distributor of Mexican mangoes — Splendid Products of California — did initiate a recall from the mango grower known as Agricola Daniella with multiple farms and a single packing house located in Sinaloa, Mexico.

Two weeks into the recall, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta said the Salmonella Braenderup outbreak had grown to include 121 people from 15 states with 25 requiring hospitalization.

But the “fast-moving” FDA investigation did not seem to be gaining much traction. The Mexican government went so far as to say that neither the U.S. nor Canada has conclusively linked the Salmonella contamination with their mangoes.

FDA responded to that with an import alert for Daniella brand mangoes, but the investigation did not seem to be going anywhere. One reason for that is that no FDA investigative team has yet ventured south of the border for the usual site inspections that follow outbreaks.

“FDA personnel have not visited the Agricola Daniella mango production facilities,” an agency spokesman told Food Safety News. “FDA continues to collaborate with and share information with Mexican and Canadian health and agricultural officials regarding this investigation.”

Time and time again,  it’s been the quick inspections immediately after outbreaks that discover contaminated product and environmental samples.

For its part, FDA marked the one-month anniversary of the first recall by making its clear there were three other U.S. distributors of Agricola Daniella in addition to Splendid Products of Burlingame, CA. They are: Coast Citrus Distributors Inc. of San Diego, Food Source Inc. of Edinburg, TX and GM Produce Sales of Hidalgo, TX. Otherwise, it was a sort of roundup of all Daniella brand recall activity north of the border.

“As a result of the recalls, a number of firms supplied by these distributors have initiated recalls for mangoes and products containing mangoes, ” FDA said. But only mangoes from Agricola Daniella are included the recall by the distributors.

FDA, which in the past has often followed outbreak sources into Mexico, is for some reason not venturing there now at a time when U.S. imports of agricultural products from its southern neighbor have never been greater.

U.S. imports of agricultural products from Mexico totaled $15.8 billion in 2011, including more than $4 billion in fresh vegetables and $2.4 billion in fresh fruit excluding bananas.

© Food Safety News
  • Dog Doctor

    If you would review previous investigations of non domestic facilities, you would notice that the majority of them did not occurred in 30 days.
    You would find that the process for FDA or other US agencies to visit a foreign country involves several steps including working with the Department of State, the host country, completing the process for foreign travel for federal employees, and arranging for taking and shipping samples across a boarder or finding a lab in country to process the samples. It is very involved and lengthy processes with many more steps involved in making the inspection happen. If you will review previous investigation it takes an average of 60-90 days to complete the process, sometimes it takes 6 months. I noticed by your bio that you have 10 years experience, you should have been aware of these steps, if you have followed outbreaks in the past.
    I have to wonder what your motivation would be to write this article since you should be aware of the process, and that it is very unusual for FDA to investigate a foreign firm within 30 days of a recall or even its identification. The one exception I can think of is the farms involved in the green onion outbreak in 2003. You should also realize that FDA’s enforcement powers are limited to within the border of the United States, so these investigations outside the country have to be done with the corporation of the home country. Honestly, there is not much the FDA can do to shorten the process on a routine basis

  • Another issue is how potentially dangerous it is for FDA members to go to this specific location in Mexico, which has a very active drug cartel.
    Point of fact, we now have to consider issues related to food from Mexico because of the unraveling of authority because of the drug cartels. Tragic when you consider the problems in Mexico arise in the US: we being both customer of the drugs, and suppliers of the guns.
    But if we can’t act quickly when it comes to food outbreaks, or can’t do the necessary investigations and inspections–how safe will the food be from Mexico?

  • Ben Mark

    FDA did the right thing. Roundup all Mangos from Mexico and hold the importer responsible for the food they sell in USA. The importers have to prove the food is safe they want to sell here and not the FDA has to find to source of contamination. Where are the sanitation protocols from field to retail? When the first contaminated Mangos where detected, the lawyer of Danielle told the press they have an excellent recall system that worked. How can it be that as of today contaminated mangos are still all over the place?

  • Mary W.

    The US Government has issued a travel alert restricting the travel of Government employees to the Sinaloa region. They need to be escorted by armed bodyguards and armored vehicles when visiting the area. http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/tw/tw_5665.html