Cold treatment of imported fruits and vegetables has been approved at another US port, according to a final rule.
The rule published in the Federal Register will allow a cold treatment facility at MidAmerica St. Louis Airport, Mascoutah, Illinois.
It will help the importation of fruit requiring cold treatment while continuing to provide protection against the introduction of fruit flies and other insect pests into the US.
An APHIS-approved cold treatment facility would allow importers to treat fruits and vegetables arriving from foreign locations and requiring a treatment to meet US entry requirements.
It becomes effective on 25 November and the facility is expected to mainly treat imported blueberries, said the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
“We have determined that there are biological barriers at this port that, along with certain safeguards, would prevent the introduction of fruit flies and other insect pests into the US in the unlikely event that they escape from shipments of fruits or vegetables before the fruits or vegetables undergo cold treatment,” said APHIS.
APHIS allows imported fruits or vegetables to undergo cold treatment at an approved facility in the country of origin or after arrival in the US at a cold storage warehouse approved by APHIS Administrator.
The final rule will not significantly affect the market for blueberries because the facility is not projected to result in a significant increase in the quantity imported by the US.
One comment was received which supported the action so the proposed rule was adopted without change.
APHIS received a petition from North Bay Produce, Inc., to designate the MidAmerica St. Louis Airport as an approved location for the cold treatment of imported fruits or vegetables.
Some importers of fruits and vegetables showed interest in locating cold treatment facilities in places that are not currently allowed under the regulations, said APHIS.
The facility is expected to result in at least 800 flights of produce requiring cold treatment per year, raising at least $8m in direct income for the airport.
Other locations include Wilmington, North Carolina; Seattle, Washington; Corpus Christi, Texas and Gulfport, Mississippi; and Atlanta, Georgia.