US Suspends Avocado Imports From Mexico ‘Until Further Notice’ After Threat To Inspector


U.S. officials suspended imports of avocados from Mexico on the eve of Super Bowl LVI after a U.S. plant safety inspector received a threat, The Associated Press reported.

“U.S. 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,” Mexico’s Agriculture Department said in a statement.

The statement added that imports were suspended “until further notice.”

The ban comes during a peak sales opportunity for the Mexican avocado growers, though the AP noted that it would have little impact on Super Bowl sales as those avocados had already been shipped.

The Mexican avocado growers and packers association will again air a Super Bowl ad this year, as it has for the past decade in an effort to make guacamole a game-day tradition.

Mexico’s avocado export industry has fallen victim to drug cartel war battles and extortion of avocado growers in the state of Michoacan, the only Mexico state to be fully authorized to export into the U.S., the AP reported.

Many avocado growers in Michoacan have said drug cartels have threatened them or their family members with kidnapping or death unless they pay them protection money, which could cost up to thousands of dollars per acre.

A team of Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services inspectors was previously threatened by the cartel in August 2019, leading the USDA to warn in a letter about possible consequences of attacking or threatening U.S. inspectors, the AP noted.