(CNSNews.com) -- The government watchdog group Judicial Watch reported this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains a National Mango Board, which operates on a $6.7 million budget, solely to "increase the consumption of fresh mangos in the United States," according to its USDA website. "This is a serious matter that is handled at the presidential cabinet level," reported Judicial Watch.
First handlers and importers of 500,000 pounds of fresh mangos each year pay a fee to fund the Board, a cost that is collected by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection.
The Board has 18 members, which includes 8 importers, 2 domestic producers, 1 first handler, and 7 foreign producers, according to its website. The National Mango Board is based in Orlando, Fla.
In December, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue announced the appointment of six members to serve three-year terms on the National Mango Board. Three were from U.S. states and two were from Mexico and Peru.
“I truly appreciate the time and expertise that these individuals have agreed to give guiding the National Mango Board in its mission to find ways to provide fresh mangos to U.S. consumers and help their industry thrive,” said Secretary Perdue.
Commenting on the Board, Judicial Watch said, "Here’s why this obscure government entity exists; to increase the consumption of fresh mangos in the United States, unlikely to be a pressing issue for most Americans. The board accomplishes this with promotion and market development activities that naturally also support a thriving industry.
“'The board’s vision is to bring the world’s love of mangos to the U.S.,' according to the National Mango Board website, which describes itself as a 'promotion and research organization,'" reported Judicial Watch.
"The site includes all sorts of interesting information about mangos, including the unique texture and flavors of different varieties, how to ripen, cut and store the fruit and tips on choosing the perfect mango—don’t focus on color because it’s not the best indicator of ripeness," reported Judicial Watch. "There are also recipes for just about any dish with mango, including tropical mango guacamole, shrimp and mango curry, mango Manchego stuffed with jalapeños and crusted pork with mango relish, among others. Six varieties of mangos are sold in the U.S.; Tommy Atkins, Haden, Kent, Keitt, Honey and Francis."
Judicial Watch continued, "One of the more recent studies sponsored by the board includes an in-depth analysis on the ideal temperature to deliver the highest quality mangos. The findings are delivered in an exhaustive 38-page report, but the nutshell is that the optimal transit temperature for mangos is around 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
"The problem however, is that mangos are often transported in refrigerated trailers with other food items that require colder temperatures and the mangos get compromised. The experts in 'perishable food cold chain' hired to research the matter were left with the objective of finding commercially available pallet covers for the thermal protection of mango pallets transported in a mixed load refrigerated trailer.
"It’s not clear how much this important research cost the Mango Board. For those wondering, Kent mangos were used in the study and pallet covers were tested with and without a base."