With more goods set to move across the U.S.-Mexico border, post-NAFTA, just how thorough are customs checks for contamination? A brouhaha over 26 tankers of allegedly uninspected raw cream from Mexico raises big questions.
North Dakota officials, fearing a high level of tuberculosis and other diseases in Mexican cows, have shut down the Wyndmere (N.D.) creamery that they say received the 1.25 million pounds of cream in January and processed it into butter. Officials say a routine check uncovered this. About 500,000 pounds were sold to Chicago's Danish Maid Butter, which won't comment, with the rest shipped back to Mexico. While later testing showed the butter was properly pasteurized, it wasn't sold to the public.
U.S. Customs officials are puzzled how that much Mexican cream could enter the U.S. undetected. Lou Samenfink, Customs' program manager for inspections, says the feds are taking the matter "very seriously" and have stepped up border inspections. In the meantime, Wyndmere Creamery owner Clayton Rawhouser is in hiding after refusing to answer state subpoenas, North Dakota officials report. His wife, Jan, denies that the cream came from Mexico.