Secretary petitions USDA in the wake of Medfly discoveries in Spanish Clementines
SACRAMENTO-California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary William (Bill) J. Lyons, Jr. has made a formal request that the USDA adopt stronger safeguards for imported citrus, especially from regions known as habitat for the Mediterranean Fruit Fly.
In a petition and accompanying letter sent today, Secretary Lyons cited recent Medfly discoveries in Spanish Clementines as sufficient cause to demand that countries such as Spain, Morocco and South Africa create detailed protocols to eliminate Medfly infestations before products are shipped to the United States. Currently, foreign shippers rely on cold storage facilities on vessels to kill the pests before they reach American ports.
“It’s clear the current system isn’t working,” said Secretary Lyons. “It’s imperative that the USDA take additional steps to protect American crops from infestation. We have spent hundreds of millions of dollars to control the Medfly threat in California. It’s one of our highest priorities. The USDA has a responsibility to act on our petition and to implement it before shipments resume.”
The Medfly threatens more than 260 different types of fruits and vegetables. If the pest became established in California, it could cause billions of dollars worth of damage.
To date, CDFA has found live larvae in Clementines in Santa Clara and Riverside counties. The state has seized nearly 50,000 cases of the fruit for examination and disposal.
Consumers with Spanish Clementines at home are urged to dispose of them by placing them in the garbage disposal or by freezing them solid, double bagging them and then throwing them away.
California Department of Food and Agriculture Office of Public Affairs
1220 N St., Ste. 214, Sacramento, CA 95814