Mexico attempts to overturn US avocado import suspension after threat to inspector

The US embassy said the security situation in Michoacan state is under review and while exports are not formally blocked, they are subject to inspection when sent over the border.

Authorities in Mexico are attempting to overturn a US decision to temporarily suspend avocado shipments from the western state of Michoacan after a US factory inspector was threatened.


The surprise suspension was confirmed late on Saturday on the eve of the Super Bowl, the biggest sales opportunity of the year for Mexican avocado growers.


Avocado exports are the latest victim of the drug cartel turf battles and avocado growers face extortion in the western state of Michoacan, the only state in Mexico fully authorised to export to the US market.


The US government has suspended all imports of Mexican avocados "until further notice" after a plant safety inspector received a threatening message, Mexico's Agriculture Department said in a statement.


"US health authorities ... made the decision after one of their officials, who was carrying out inspections in Uruapan, Michoacan, received a threatening message on his official cellphone," the department wrote.


The inspector works for the US Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services.


The US embassy said the security situation is under review and while exports are not formally blocked, they are subject to inspection when sent over the border.


Michoacan's governor Alfredo Ramirez pledged to get the suspension lifted quickly, and Mexican media said he had agreed to meet US officials in the coming days for that purpose.


The import ban came on the day that the Mexican avocado growers and packers association unveiled its Super Bowl ad for this year.


Mexican exporters have taken out the expensive ads for almost a decade in a bid to associate guacamole as a Super Bowl tradition.


This year's advert shows Julius Caesar and a rough bunch of gladiator fans outside what appears to be the Colosseum, soothing their apparently violent differences by enjoying guacamole.


Because the United States also grows avocados, US inspectors work in Mexico to ensure exported avocados don't carry diseases that could hurt American crops.


It was only in 1997 that the US lifted a ban on Mexican avocados that had been in place since 1914 to prevent a range of weevils, scabs and pests from entering its orchards.


Source: Sky News