Mexican Produce

Many of the fruits and vegetables sold at the grocery stores in my area (Maryland) are from Mexico. I have never had any health problems nor have I heard of any. Why then is it not recommended to eat these same fruits and vegetables when visiting Mexico? Is the Mexican produce destined for the USA grown on different farms and/or handled differently than the produce that stays in Mexico? Is it even true that you should avoid fresh produce while in Mexico? Am I missing something obvious?

Probably has to do with the water they were washed in. Produce in Mexico will have been washed in local water.

So after a box of mangos or whatever arrives from Mexico it is unpacked, washed, and put back in the box?!?

Most people wash it themselves at home before they eat it.

If you bought the produce in Mexico, and washed it in safe water, you’d be fine.

Last time I was in Mexico it was suggested to stick to the local fruits and vegetables and avoid most meats, especially chicken. Found a great combination, jackfruit and XXX beer.

Also, when you’re in foreign countries with questionable water it is still generally safe to eat fruit you peel first.

Normally most people in Mexico wash their fruits and veggies first. Lots of them use iodine, bleach, or commercial products for sanitizing them if they’re for consumption raw. Besides that, most large cities have perfectly clean, potable, chlorinated city water (although people who don’t clean their surge tanks are subject to bacterial infection of their own domestic water supplies).

The general advice I always get during cultural counseling before every work trip is to only eat fruits and veggies that I peel myself, but that’s overkill. If you’re not going to eat on street corners, “good” restaurants are perfectly hygienic and it’s not going to hurt you to have a green salad.

As a result of one of my earlier work trips, I now have family in Mexico, and they pretty much prepare their food just like we do, although it creeps me out that they leave the bean pot out all the time. ::shudder::

Not to hijack the thread, but this made me wonder. Are we as Americans so spoiled, that now our bodies are such wimps when it comes to dealing with non-deadly bacteria?

Does the water that the fruits are…watered with and therefore contain have anything to do with it? I always thought it did.

I know the reverse is anecdotally true. I used to get food poisoning 4-6 times a year before moving to California ten years ago, and not once since.

I have land next to a mango packing plant and the fruit is dipped to remove any pest larvae. The trucks back up to a sealed bumper and the fruit is inspected and loaded on the trailer then sealed with a seal from the USDA. This allows the truck to avoid hold up at the border crossing. I have also visited a large tomato growing operation near Guadalajara that has extremely strict hygiene standards to avoid any type of contamination. They don’t allow any unauthorized personel on the premises. Farms producing fare for local consumption don’t use such strict standards but I eat a lot of fresh fruit and vegetables daily and don’t have any problems. Leafy stuff like lettuce we soak first in an antibacterial solution.

Very few farms still use untreated waste water for irrigation.

I always thought that the food was irradiated before coming to our markets.

Hah! No way – too many people are too paranoid when it comes to “radiation.” On the other hand, this Wikipedia article maybe indicates that irradiated food is more common than I think. Maybe paranoia over GM foods have displaced paranoia over irradiated food? I’d live to get my hands on some irradiated ground beef so that I can make a medium rare burger without having to grind it myself!

While the following isn’t limited to being a problem only in Mexico, it’s not uncommon for migratory workers to take care of their hygiene needs in as expedient a manner as possible, which often leads to undesired contamination. I seem to recall an outbreak of hepatitis as a result of strawberries from Mexico as a result of poor bathroom habits.

On a recent trip up north, many of the road-side stands selling cherries would indicate on their signs that the cherries were washed, so you can see that this isn’t a concern only in Mexico.