WASHINGTON (FNS) -- The Agriculture Department has proposed permitting the importation of 16 fruits and vegetables that now cannot be sold by food retailers due to concerns the produce could harbor crop-damaging insects.
"This action would provide the United States with additional kinds of fruits and vegetables, while continuing to protect American agriculture against the introduction of exotic plant pests," said Alfred S. Elder, acting deputy administrator of the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.
The agency said in a Federal Register notice that the following produce could be imported: radishes from the Netherlands, Oca from New Zealand, Pak choi from Jamaica, chives and dill from Israel and basil from El Salvador and Ecuador. The USDA set June 23 as the cutoff date to receive comments on the proposal.
The proposal also said retailers could sell the following produce after the products have been certified as being treated to eliminate fruit flies and other possible pests: cantaloupe from Brazil, papaya from Belize, lettuce from Israel, grapes from India, apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums from Zimbabwe, and Ya pears and litchi from China. Treatment of these produce generally would be done by the exporter and certified by USDA inspectors upon importation.
The agency said that it doesn't expect the sale of these produce items in the United States to affect retail prices.