Nearly half of all fresh fruits and one-fourth of fresh vegetables consumed in the United States in 2010 were imported.
Although the bulk came from North and South America, an increasing amount of fruit imports came from China, according to a news release.
With those increasing imports also come increasing food safety concerns, according to Juan Anciso, a Texas AgriLife Extension horticulturist and food safety expert.
The growth in imports is due to cheap labor and favorable growing conditions elsewhere.
Luis Ribera, a Texas AgriLife Extension agricultural economist in Weslaco, was in China recently to speak on food safety at an International Food and Agribusiness Management Association conference.
His main topic was the economic implications of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Food Safety Modernization Act.
“What this law basically says about imported fresh produce is that the importer/broker who imports fresh produce from overseas into the U.S. is now liable for that produce once it’s in the U.S.,” Ribera said in the release.
Ribera and his colleagues are developing a cost analysis of the FSMA and how it will affect fruit and vegetable production in Texas, California and Florida. It also will examine the act's effects on imports.
The study is expected to be completed new year.