MEXICO LIFTS CALIFORNIA LETTUCE BAN
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – 10/20/06 – The Mexican government has said it will lift its weeks-old ban on lettuce imports from California.
The decision comes after the US Department of Agriculture reported that its tests on California-grown lettuce and the irrigation water used on the state’s lettuce fields for the E. coli bacteria had come back negative.
Earlier this month, Mexico had banned all lettuce imports from the US. The original ban was later narrowed to prohibit only shipments of lettuce grown in California.
The original decision came in reaction to a recall of more than 8,500 cartons of green leaf lettuce grown on a farm in California's Salinas Valley, after irrigation water tested positive for E. coli.
Mexico's Secretary of Health said the US Food and Drug Administration had reported that the five fields involved were no longer in use and their crops had been destroyed.
California is the country’s leading producer of lettuce with an estimated 70-75% of the total US production of iceberg lettuce and between 80-85% of the leaf lettuce.
E. coli can be found in both animal and human waste and can be transmitted to produce through contaminated water and inadequate hygiene on farms or in packing plants.
A recent outbreak of the bacteria found in spinach from the same agricultural region resulted in three deaths and more than 200 cases of infection around the country.
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