USDA bans import of popular clementine oranges because fruit fly larvae found in some

Thursday, December 6th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The government has banned the import of those popular clementine oranges after larvae of the Mediterranean fruit fly were found in some of the fruit.

The oranges, which are imported from Spain and sold in small wooden boxes, also must be pulled from store shelves in 17 Southern and Western states, including Oklahoma, where the weather is warm enough for the insects to survive.

The seedless, easy-to-peel fruit exploded in popularity in recent years after shippers obtained the necessary refrigerated boats. The refrigeration was supposed to keep the clementines cold enough to kill any flies that might be accompanying them.

The Medfly is considered one of the world's most destructive agricultural pests, threatening more than 250 kinds of fruits, nuts and vegetables. There are no established populations of the insect in the United States.

The larvae have been found in clementines in Louisiana, Maryland and North Carolina.

The Agriculture Department suspended indefinitely the import of Spanish clementines and banned their sale or distribution in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Washington. Fruit in those areas must be destroyed or shipped to an approved location.