US: NC dealer sues Mexican-grown coriander dealer

A Wilmington, NC-based produce dealer known as Farmer’s Friend is suing Don Hugo Produce Inc., its Texas supplier of cilantro (coriander) from farms in Puebla, Mexico. The litigation was brought because that Mexican cilantro has been contaminated with Cyclospora, a parasite which has caused the diarrheal illness known as cyclosporiasis for each of the past four seasons.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Mexican investigators have reported finding “deplorable conditions” at farms and packing houses in the Puebla area.

The 32-page complaint filed against Don Hugo quotes from the U.S.-Mexican findings about conditions that “included human faeces and toilet paper found in the growing fields and around facilities, inadequately maintained and supplied toilet and hand washing facilities (i.e., no soap, no toilet paper, no running water, no paper towels) or a complete lack of toilet and hand washing facilities; food-contact surfaces (such as plastic crates used to transport cilantro or tables where cilantro was cut and bundled) visibly dirty and not washed; and water used for purposes such as washing cilantro vulnerable to contamination from sewage/septic systems.”

Those findings led FDA to call for the Mexican cilantro being detained at the U.S. border without physical examination.

Farmer’s Friend charges it was misled by Hugo Produce because it presented third-party audits that the cilantro grown on the farms outside Puebla, Mexico, was safe. It says those claims were “fraudulent and deceptive” and resulted in many U.S. consumers being sickened by the parasite and suffering cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea as a result, some requiring hospitalization.

Click here to read more at foodsafetynews.com.

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