USDA Suspends Avocado Inspections in Michoacán, Mexico, Over Safety Concerns

The United States has suspended inspections of avocados and mangoes in the western Mexican state of Michoacan due to security fears, a U.S. official told The Associated Press on Monday.

A spokesperson for the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) told the Reuters news agency that the decision followed a safety incident involving its staff and said inspection programs “will remain suspended until “that the security situation is examined and that protocols and guarantees are in place.”

Shipments already in transit would not be affected, and checks in other states would not be affected, a U.S. government spokesperson, who could not be named due to policy, told the AP. of the agency.

Mexico is the world’s largest producer of avocados, a staple in the diet of many Americans who enjoy them during their meals. toast, or transformed into guacamole, especially during the Super Bowl. The United States imported a record 2.78 billion pounds of fresh avocados in 2023, 89% of which came from Mexico, according to the USDA.

Michoacán Governor Alfredo Ramírez Bedolla told reporters Monday that he was in constant contact with U.S. officials to provide guarantees on exports.

No further details about the security incident that prompted the decision were immediately available.

However, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico issued a security alert for the Mexican state on Friday that read: “Due to recent security incidents in Aranza, Michoacan, the U.S. government reminds U.S. citizens not to go to the state of Michoacan. »

U.S. government employees in the area have been advised to shelter in place, the statement added.

The State Department warns against travel to Michoacan “due to crimes and kidnappings” – the same level of travel warning for five other Mexican states, including Sinaloa and Zacatecas.

The United States briefly suspended imports of Michoacan avocados in 2022 after a U.S. factory safety inspector received a threatening letter, sparking concerns about possible price hikes. At the time, Michoacán was the only Mexican state to supply the fruit to the United States, but its neighbor Jalisco has since begun its own exports to the north.

For decades, until the North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994, avocados from Mexico were banned from entering the United States for fear that weevils, scab and other pests could infect the U.S. suppliers, as reported by the Washington Post in 2022. USDA inspectors now ensure that fruit is pest-free before import.

In recent years, avocados have been considered one of America’s favorite fruits and a concern for many during the U.S.-Mexico border disputes. In 2019, President Donald Trump’s threat to close the border with Mexico sparked widespread anxiety, media coverage and memes about the prospect of an avocado shortage.

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