Second Del Monte cantaloupe suit targets OREGON agency
Posted: August 31st, 2011 - 4:56pm
Source: The Packer
Fresh Del Monte is filing a second lawsuit against a government agency after the Food and Drug Administration banned its imports from a Guatemalan cantaloupe grower.
Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. filed a notice to sue the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division and one of the agency’s officials, according to an Aug. 29 news release.
Del Monte on Aug. 22 filed a suit asking a federal judge to order the FDA to end an import alert restricting the company’s imports of cantaloupe from Fresh Asuncion Mita farm. The FDA issued the alert July 15.
“The Notice to Sue alerts the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division of its conduct and misleading allegations regarding Del Monte Fresh’s imported cantaloupes as the source of a Salmonella outbreak earlier this year despite the lack of sufficient factual basis,” Del Monte officials said in the release.
In March, Fresh Del Monte recalled Guatemalan cantaloupe after the FDA stated it found an epidemiologic link between the cantaloupes and about a dozen reported cases of Salmonella Panama.
Although the release didn't name the Oregon agency official, Del Monte vice president of marketing Dennis Christou confirmed it is senior epidemiologist William Keene of the Oregon Public Health Division. Keene was quoted in numerous media reports on the FDA’s March recall of the cantaloupes. It’s unknown what “misleading allegations” Del Monte is referring to.
“One reason this outbreak was so small is that all (of the precautions) Del Monte was doing were pretty effective,” Keene was quoted in the April 4 issue of The Packer.