Foster’s Food Fair has posted signs in its stores that fresh produce cannot be taken on board aircraft from Grand Cayman to the Sister Islands because of the threat of Pink Hibiscus Mealybug.
Foster’s Produce Senior Manager Lazaro Hernandez said the signs have been posted to save any customers the trouble and money of buying produce while in Grand Cayman, where cases of the PHM have been found, because they will not be permitted to take the produce on flights to the Sister Islands, which are still PHM free.
This is a precaution that has been put in place by the Department of Agriculture in trying to keep PHM out of Cayman Brac and Little Cayman.
However, the Department of Agriculture is looking towards finding a workable solution for transporting low risk produce to the Sister Islands in the near future.
The signs were posted on Wednesday of this week at all Foster’s Food Fair stores.
What prompted the signs going up, Mr. Hernandez explained, was a call from a couple of customers who had bought produce at Foster’s and were stopped from carrying the items on to their plane at Owen Roberts International Airport.
”We posted the signs because we don’t want the unpleasant surprise for customers who buy fruit and then have to go through getting it confiscated at the airport,’ he said.
Foster’s Food Fair carries both local and imported fresh produce.
Mr. Hernandez said that wholesale distributors, however, are still supplying fresh produce direct to the Sister Islands, because they have a system that keeps local and international produce strictly separate and in atmosphere controlled conditions.
Mr. Hernandez explained that by Foster’s Food Fair having both local and imported produce in the store, if a Pink Hibiscus Mealy Bug had landed on a local pumpkin or breadfruit and had laid an egg, there would be the possibility of it spreading.
‘It’s all for a good cause, in helping keep Mealy Bug out of the Sister Islands,’ he said. ‘We posted the signs because we didn’t want our customers to find out (about transportation of produce) the hard way,’ he said.