Importers could have an additional option for phytosanitary treatment of fresh produce this spring at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, easing logistics and decreasing costs, particularly for mangoes from Pakistan. Now many mangoes from Pakistan are routed from their port of entry to the Sadex Corp. facility in Sioux City, Iowa, for irradiation before they can be distributed across the U.S. Frank Benso, president of Gateway America, said with the installation of a Genesis II cobalt-60 irradiation machine at Gulfport importers will be able to save time and money. The project was recently completed, and Benso said he is working on final certification from the Animal and Plant Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Once that documentation reaches APHIS officials, the Gulfport facility could be certified in 90 days or less, said Tanya Espinosa, APHIS spokeswoman. The review will include an on-site inspection. The agency OK’d the placement of the facility at Gulfport last year, but additional certification is required for the actual equipment. Benso said in addition to providing phytosanitary services for imported produce, the Gateway America facility will provide food safety treatments for domestic and international produce.
He noted that irradiation not only kills pests that APHIS is concerned about, but it also kills pathogens such as E. coli, salmonella and listeria. “I see domestic applications for food safety measures equal to if not stronger than our phytosanitary services ultimately,” Benso said. “Irradiation also kills decay bacteria, so shelf life is extended.” Along with irradiation services, Benso said the Gateway America facility at Gulfport has 20,000 square feet of refrigerated storage space and 20,000 square feet of dry storage space. He left room to install a second Genesis II irradiation machine.
Gary Chouest, CEO
Edison Chouest Offhsore
“As we have already learned in the operation of our Gulf Ship facility, the Gulfport region will provide us access to a quality workforce. We appreciate the cooperation and support of the local officials who are providing a business friendly environment to grow our company.”