IMPORTED CANTALOUPE BAN ON FDA'S 2003 TO-DO LIST

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has made resolution of the ban on cantaloupes imported from Mexico an "A"-level priority during the fiscal year that runs through September 2003. FDA released the list earlier this month.etention Without Physical Examination" submitted through the Mexican Embassy.The ban was enacted after government investigators

WASHINGTON -- The Food and Drug Administration's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition has made resolution of the ban on cantaloupes imported from Mexico an "A"-level priority during the fiscal year that runs through September 2003. FDA released the list earlier this month.

etention Without Physical Examination" submitted through the Mexican Embassy.

The ban was enacted after government investigators determined that Mexican cantaloupe had repeatedly caused outbreaks of Salmonella poona. According to federal officials, there were four outbreaks over the past three years in the Southwest, resulting in at least two deaths and nearly two dozen hospitalizations.

As part of its program to resolve the issue, the FDA stated that it plans to "assist the government of Mexico in developing a certification program to assure the safety of cantaloupe to be sold in the U.S." To that end, the food-safety branch of Mexico's own Department of Agriculture has developed a certification program for all produce items, not just cantaloupe.

Aside from cantaloupe, the FDA is devoting much of its energy on ensuring the security of the country's food supply as a primary goal. With the enactment last June of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002, much of the effort during the current fiscal year will focus on issuing the necessary regulations to implement the statute. For example, the Food Safety and Security section of the U.S. work plan prominently features the issuance of proposals and final rules -- along with necessary guidance -- for the four major areas of the new legislation: facility registration, prior notice, record keeping and administrative detention.