Produce company can now sell, resell cucumbers after salmonella - Tucson News Now

Produce company can now sell, resell cucumbers after salmonella scare

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

A Rio Rico produce company can start buying and selling cucumbers again after a salmonella scare earlier this year.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration put Tricar Sales on an import alert list after the company was "linked" to a salmonella outbreak. Dozens of people reported getting sick between the months of January and April.

The FDA says the company has tested clean.

It's back to business as usual at Tricar sales, according to a released statement.

Company officials say "we are happy the investigation is over.  We believe this situation has strengthened Tricar as a company."

"This was a unique case.  The FDA never found a cucumber that had Salmonella on it related to this company," said Lance Jungmeyer with the Fresh Produce Association of America.

FDA officials were in this warehouse several times, closely inspecting the product for any signs of contamination.

Company officials say they do everything they can to make sure fresh produce remains fresh.

"We keep our warehouse at a temperature of 40 degrees... up to 48 to 50 degrees in some rooms.  We maintain cleanliness at all times," Tricar Sales Director of Sales and MArketing Rod Sbragio said.

Cucumbers are big business for this company. They get the product from growers in Culiacan, Mexico.

We went to the Fresh Produce Association of America and asked officials how we know if Mexican standards are up to par with U.S. FDA guidelines. Jungmeyer says billions of dollars are at stake for growers there in exports.

"They're testing water quality weekly, they're testing packing soils, the controls are in place throughout the system including at warehouse here in Nogales," Jungmeyer said.

Consumer safety is key for those working in the produce industry. FDA officials can walk in to inspect these vegetables in the warehouse at any time with technology officials say testing is much more sophisticated today.

"Kind of like our ability to detect cancer and other diseases. The ability of science to detect microbes has increased dramatically," Jungmeyer said. "Twenty years ago what we called diarrah, now we call Salmonella."

"Really the goal is from the time piece of produce is put into the box in the packing skid till the time it reaches the end buyer, the retailer or restaurant, the goal is no one ever touches that piece of produce."

Officials at Tricar Sales say they have now increased the frequency of our testing procedures of product, water, soil, and food contact surfaces.

Company officials go on to say they hope those who were contaminated by the salmonella have gone on to make a speedy recovery.

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