Amid the nation’s deadliest salmonella outbreak in recent history, nine states are implementing new or reexamining old moratoriums or bans on imported food from Mexico.
California will ban or restrict sales of cactus, tortillas, quesadillas, mushrooms, cucumbers, blackberries, peaches, pistachios, apples, pear, guava, raspberries, raspberries, pears, radishes, squash, tomatoes, eggplant, pumpkin, pumpkin pie, pickles, barbecue sauce, ketchup, paprika, salt, salt and pepper, cooked onions, cooked egg, and cookie dough.
The restrictions are designed to counteract or lessen fears of foodborne illness linked to the contaminated products — 50 people have died and 901 have fallen ill since the outbreak began in August.
“We’re going to take back something that you can’t get back. It is what it is,” Melissa Avila, spokeswoman for the California Department of Public Health said. “We can’t go back and find stuff that hasn’t been contaminated.”
Florida residents are barred from buying and distributing garlic, onion, and coriander, any Mexican produce with a foreign sticker, and certain produce deemed to be “cursory” in any of the other nine states that enacted new or reexamined old moratoriums.
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Texas enacted a ban in January, Minnesota in May, Oregon in September and Missouri later this month. Washington state, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C., have scheduled November special elections.
A 30-day moratorium on Mexican cheese, queso fresco, tortillas, pork chops, cheese, pork, boiled chicken, cilantro, pumpkin, pears, apples, melons, raspberries, apples, raspberries, onions, garlic, dried sesame seeds, and pickles will be lifted on July 6 in the state of Texas.
The Mexican Meat Industry Alliance has lobbied against states’ beefing up food safety by barring Mexico-produced items from circulation.
“Countries that are the source of contamination come back with a retaliation law to punish us,” said Fernando Jimenez, vice president of the alliance. “We just call that unfair.”
Mark Kantrowitz, an expert on college financial aid who is widely cited by lawmakers on issues affecting the students and families of young adults, said the new regulations cost the American consumer little.
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“The effect of the whole thing in terms of direct economic impact? Not that much,” Kantrowitz said. “For example, buying pumpkin pie, which I couldn’t buy in Florida, would become more expensive.
“But overall, maybe it’s $5 to $15 a store where they’re already charging a lot more for milk and eggs than they used to, but that’s basically $5 to $15 in the long run.”
Gary Herren, a professor at the Arizona State University Center for Entrepreneurship and an expert on trade policy, said he doesn’t think the policies will ever be repealed, especially since most people don’t want to make the trips across the border.
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“It’s an important piece of national security policy,” Herren said. “My wife and I buy Mexican and American grapes from a local farmer that is certified organic. We’re an innovative couple that’s trying to do our part to make this country stronger.
“We’re very patriotic Americans. But I think it would really be counterproductive for us to think that this is going to help us.”
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Elizabeth Shogren is a political analyst for Fox News, based in Washington, D.C. She previously covered politics as a correspondent for Fox News Channel.