December 11, 2013

Kern County Ag Commissioner Requests Voluntary 48-Hour Hold for Citrus Freeze Damage Assessment

Kern County Agricultural Commissioner Ruben J. Arroyo, issued a letter TODAY to Kern County citrus handlers requesting that all citrus fruit sent to packinghouses on or after December 11, 2013 be placed under a voluntary 48-hour hold to allow his staff time to assess freeze damage prior to packing.

Arroyo writes the following in the body of the letter:

As you are aware, citrus growers of Kern County have experienced several days of freezing weather. Temperatures have been low enough and of sufficient duration to cause fruit damage. After consultation with Agricultural Commissioners in other citrus producing counties, the following has been agreed upon:

·We request that packers voluntarily wait 48 hours before packing fruit harvested on or after December 11, 2013 to allow our staff an opportunity to make assessments on your fruit.

· You may do your own sampling prior to asking for an official sample by our staff. This additional step may provide you with options and an opportunity to fully assess the level of freeze damage.

· Every effort will be made to accommodate packing schedules.

· If fruit is packed and shipped prior to having an official sample taken at the time of packing, a Notice of Violation will be issued. Further action may be taken.

· All fruit harvested and packed prior to December 11, 2013 is not subject to this notice.

Our concern, like yours, is to protect the industry and integrity of your labels by keeping freeze-damaged fruit out of wholesale and retail market channels. These steps are considered necessary to maintain consumer confidence. Thank you for your cooperation during this difficult time. Do not hesitate to contact me or my staff if you have questions or concerns regarding inspection uniformity.

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