Parasite scares leave Guatemala’s raspberry farmers hard row to hoe
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Guatemalan raspberry growers are struggling to reclaim their export market after mysterious outbreaks of intestinal illness prompted authorities in the United States and Canada to ban imports of the fruit.
It has been an uphill battle. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says it will certify no more than eight farms here to export fresh raspberries to the United States in the next growing season, which runs from March to August.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta traced the intestinal infections to Guatemala’s fresh raspberries and a pesky, waterborne parasite called cyclospora, after 2,500 people in the United States and Canada reported severe diarrhea, cramps and vomiting in 1996 and 1997 outbreaks.
No one knows exactly how cyclospora may have gotten on Guatemalan raspberries. But many experts believe contaminated water from rivers, streams, springs or uncovered wells was used for irrigation or pesticide spraying.