DOA recommends suspension of all vegetable supplies to School Lunch Program

fili@samoanews.com

Agriculture Department acting director Peter Gurr has recommended the suspension until further notice supply to the School Lunch Program of all vegetables except for local taro, green bananas, ripe-bananas and hydroponic vegetables.

Gurr made the recommendation in an Oct. 25th letter to Education Department acting director Philo Jennings, after DOA “uncovered numerous violations by local farmers” during the DOA routine farm inspections this month.

Gurr explained the inspections are routine visits by DOA farm inspectors to provide real time data and updates of the food security in American Samoa and the safety of the local production according to the DOA local produce compliance for the School lunch program and the general public.

“The violations were very serious and extremely hazardous for all vegetables supplied to the school lunch program and sold locally,” Gurr wrote and cited some of the violations, which includes the use of toxic foreign labeled pesticides; and use of pesticides with no Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration numbers; use of toxic non-EPA registered pesticides in fumigation and post-harvest storage of vegetables and fruits in sealed containers in the field.

DOA farm inspectors also found lack of toilet and shower facilities on some individual farms with sewage collected in cans. “Some farmers in the recent past have used human waste as fertilizer — and crops tested positive for Ecoli,” Gurr wrote.

Other violations:

•     Use of illegal fertilizers with foreign labels

•     Overuse and abuse of fertilizer

•     Application of chemicals without a certified pesticide applicator license

•     Falsifying of farm coordinates.

“To enforce the DOA local produce compliance and to protect the safety of the food supply for the School Lunch Program, DOA is recommending to suspend the supply of all vegetables except for local taro, green bananas, ripe bananas and hydroponic vegetables until further notice,” Gurr informed Jennings.

Gurr also noted the same violations in a separate Oct. 26th letter to local storeowners and managers, restaurants and roadside stands.

He says there were “no violations of local taro, bananas and in hydroponically-grown vegetables.”

“To enforce the DOA local produce compliance and to protect the safety of the food supply, DOA is suspending the selling of all locally grown produce except for local taro, green bananas, ripe bananas and hydroponically-grown vegetables until further notice,” Gurr said. 

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