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SPREAD CHEER, NOT MEDFLY FOR THE HOLIDAYS

 SACRAMENTO, Calif., Nov. 24 ~PRNewswire~ -- Agricultural quarantine officials with the Cooperative Medfly Project in Los Angeles and Santa Clara counties in California are asking residents to help stop the spread of Medfly by keeping home grown fruits and vegetables at home this year.
 Medfly project officials are especially concerned about the potential spread of Medfly to other areas of California and the United States during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays when residents travel to visit friends and relatives, often taking gifts of home-grown fruit.
 Dee Sudduth, exclusion biologist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) says Medfly infested fruit may show no signs of damage from the outside, lulling residents into thinking it's alright to give the fruit away to friends and relatives. "The female Medfly lays her eggs just beneath the skin of ripening fruit using an appendage (ovipositor) no larger than a hypodermic needle. The eggs hatch into maggots that tunnel through the fruit, leaving it a rotten mass." Infested fruit, when discarded, can start a new Medfly infestation wherever it ends up. Medflies, hitch-hiking in fruit, have spread far from their original homeland (the Mediterranean), in precisely this manner, aided by unknowing travelers and shippers.
 "Commercially grown fruits and vegetables sold in grocery stores may be removed from the quarantine area," said Sudduth, "because the commercial outlets are under compliance agreement that assures the fruit is not infested." Passengers leaving LAX for holiday travel should keep their grocery receipt or original packaging for fruit they want to take with them. "We want to minimize inconvenience and embarrassment for travelers carrying fruit out of the quarantine area, but we must insist that home-grown fruit and vegetables not be transported. The potential for the spread of a Medfly infestation is just too big a chance to take," she said. Over 16,000 pounds of fruit has been seized from departing passengers at LAX in the past 30 days.
 Home-grown fruit and vegetables that have been cooked, frozen or canned may be moved outside the quarantine area since processing the fruit eliminates the pest risk. Pies, cakes, cobblers, fruit punches, vegetable casseroles and other traditional holiday dishes are a good way to share the bounty of your backyard garden without taking a chance on aiding a hitch-hiking Medfly, says Sudduth.
 -0- 11~24~92
 ~CONTACT: Larry Hawkins, communications officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 213-626-1045; or, Carl DeWing, communications officer of the California Department of Food and Agriculture, 916-654-0462~


CO: California Department of Food and Agriculture; Cooperative Medfly
 Project ST: California IN: SU:


SG-SA -- SF009 -- 1333 11~24~92 20:21 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Nov 24, 1992
Words:436
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