Mango board drafts food safety road map

03/11/2013 06:35:00 AM
Fred Wilkinson

William WatsonFred WilkinsonNational Mango Board executive director William Watson speaks March 7 during a mango food safety overview session at the America Trades Produce conference in McAllen, Texas. McALLEN, Texas — The National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., put on the Mango Food Safety Conference on March 6, at the McAllen Convention Center, aiming to provide attendees with information about food safety guidelines and standards for mango growers, shippers and handlers.

The session took place in conjunction with the third annual America Trades Produce conference, sponsored by Mission-based Texas International Produce Association and the Nogales, Ariz.-based Fresh Produce Association of the Americas.

William Watson, executive director of the Orlando, Fla.-based mango board, said the board will use its website to reach the industry with its mango food safety guide, available in English and Spanish.

The guide details foodborne illness concerns specific to mangoes and includes crisis response guidelines, Watson said.

Watson said the mango board has been working with the Center for Produce Safety, Davis, Calif., in crafting the guidelines in key areas such as water quality.

As an example, he cited hot water treatments used to ensure mangoes are free of plant pests offer no such guarantee against foodborne threats to people.

“It’s a myth that hot water treatment will affect foodborne illness,” Watson said.

The board has been working with University of California-Davis and University of Florida researchers on post-harvest best management practices, which will be on the board’s website in English, Spanish and Portuguese.

Some in the industry see irradiation as a viable option for ensuring mangoes are free of foodborne threats.

“I think there’s a real opportunity for irradiation, not just for mangoes but for fresh produce in general,” Watson said.

He did caution that more research is needed to determine if or how irradiation affects food quality.

The board plans outreach meetings to share its food safety findings with growers in mango exporting nations such as Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti and Peru, Watson said.

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