SAN FRANCISCO — California Gov.
Gavin Newsom and other top state officials on Thursday announced a crackdown on the state’s canned fruit industry, calling it the “saltiest of all the items.”
Newsom, a Democrat, said the crackdown would target products made from canned fruit with a salt content of more than 50 parts per million, or 5 parts per billion.
He said he has ordered a review of how the state defines saltiness.
The governor said that in the past decade, a growing number of Californians had fallen sick with gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming the canned fruit.
“We have a problem with salt in our food, and this is one of the leading causes of illness and death in our state,” Newsom said.
According to the California Department of Public Health, between 2002 and 2013, 1.7 million cases of salmonella and 16,000 cases of foodborne illness were reported to state officials.
Statewide, more than 4,000 people have died from salmonellosis, according to state health officials.
The crackdown comes as the state has become a hot spot for outbreaks of salinity-related illness.
The state reported more than 1,000 new cases of the coronavirus last month.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the state is now dealing with a second-highest outbreak in its history, with more than 9,000 confirmed cases and more than 17,000 deaths.
The governor’s order, which took effect on Friday, prohibits all state-owned and -operated businesses from selling or serving canned fruit to anyone younger than 18 years old.
The ban also extends to non-profit and government organizations that operate in California, including food trucks, campsites, day cares, schools and universities.
California’s food safety laws are complex and vary from state to state, but some provisions include bans on foodservice products that are more salt-sensitive than canned fruit such as fruit candy cans.
Some of those restrictions also apply to restaurants, such as requiring a minimum of five minutes for food service at restaurants that serve canned fruit or candy.
Last year, the state banned the sale of canned fruit and candy, but the ban was lifted in December.