- The two countries’ epidemic notification agreement is strengthened, a health protection plan for consumers in both countries.
- Standardization of timely detection standards for pathogens has made progress
- Health institutions, academia and production sectors of both countries provide safety guarantees for consumers
- Mexico is a major supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to the United States
Mexico City, September 14, 2023. – Good agricultural practices training was doubled over the last year as part of a joint effort by Mexican and U.S. health agencies on food safety. fresh foods, and the approval of laboratory technologies for the timely detection of pathogens such as hepatitis A and hepatitis A. Cyclospora cayeta.
These actions help strengthen the outbreak notification agreement between the two countries and allow us to respond quickly to detections of foodborne illness, thereby protecting the health of consumers in both countries.
The above was reported at the annual meeting of the Food Safety Alliance, led by David Soriano García, Director of Agri-Food, Aquaculture and Fisheries Safety at the National Service for Agricultural Food Health, Safety and Quality (Senasica). ; Bertha María Alcalde Luján, Health Operations Commissioner of the Federal Council for the Prevention of Health Risks (Cofepris); and Donald Prater, Acting Director of the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
At the end of the meeting of the four working groups that make up the Alliance, David Soriano García, on behalf of Senasica Director Javier Calderón Elizalde, commented that our country recognizes the importance of expanding safety measures in production and packaging units. Fresh food for the benefit of Mexican consumers and our business partners.
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development emphasized that the safety program implemented by Senasica provides assurance by enabling domestic and foreign consumers to have products certified by the System for Contamination Risk Reduction (SRRC) at their fingertips. its production, harvesting, packaging and marketing processes.
He stressed that the three health agencies have the task of disseminating the work carried out every day by hundreds of technicians in laboratories, orchards and during training to strengthen the preventive measures implemented to safeguard the health and integrity of consumers. in the challenging environment brought about by globalization.
“Global trade has made food supply chains more extensive and complex, coupled with innovations in production methods and new consumption habits, bringing new challenges to health monitoring. It can be seen that coordination between the two countries is maintained so that they can jointly respond These challenges are very important,” said Bertha Alcalde Luján, Health Operations Specialist at Cofepris.
Similarly, Mayor Lujan said that by the end of 2022, the agricultural trade volume between Mexico and the United States will exceed US$73 billion, an increase of 13% over the previous year.
Donald Platt said the security alliance with Mexico is the only such alliance the U.S. government has established with any country and reflects the importance of maintaining commerce in the region.
Mexico is a major supplier of fresh fruits and vegetables to the United States, and our economies are interdependent, so we continue to fulfill the commitments we signed in 2020 to work with health agencies, academia, and the production sector in both countries to provide consumers with access to food. Greater guarantee of fresh food safety.
He stressed that the FDA will continue to develop and share technical tools to allow Mexican producers and marketers to comply with regulations set by the U.S. government, primarily on issues of traceability and safe supply of agricultural water.
Earlier, officials from the three health agencies met with representatives from the avocado, mango, strawberry, papaya and cilantro industries, who reiterated their commitment to continue applying these protocols to reduce the risk of contamination.
The meeting was attended by representatives of five associations: the National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberry), the Mexican Association of Producers and Packers for Exports (APEAM), the Mexican Mango Exporters Association (Emex), the Mexican Papaya Exporters Organization (Proexport Papaya) and the Mexican Union of Coriander and Vegetable Exporters (UNACOMEX).
Each association described actions taken to improve food safety through the implementation of its traceability program. For its part, Senasica informed the Association of the actions it has taken regarding traceability.
The Ministry of Agriculture agency presented the application development of the SRRC “Traceability” module eight as a basic technical requirement for certification and accreditation, as well as the generation of dissemination and training support materials to enhance implementation. this tool.
During the meeting, FDA staff introduced the progress of new traceability rules, especially the requirements for additional traceability records for certain foods, and also introduced new regulations on agricultural water use in the United States, with the goal of giving fresh food producers the ability to comprehensively monitor their gardens. Assess, calculate and prevent risks posed by irrigation water sources to avoid the emergence of disease-causing pathogens.
Results of the working group
Since 2012, Mexican and U.S. health agencies have worked together to enhance the safety of food produced, sold and consumed in both countries. This work was officially launched in 2014 with the signing of the Declaration of Intent for Cooperation in the Fresh and Minimally Processed Produce Safety Alliance.
The agreement was updated in September 2020, when the heads of the three agencies signed the Food Safety Alliance Statement of Intent.
In order to improve work efficiency and achieve common goals, the three health agencies established four working groups and submitted reports.
Senasica Agri-Food Safety and Organic Production Director José Luis Lara de la Cruz reports that through the first group, known as strategic priorities, the three health agencies have integrated prevention and training activities to ensure the safety of onion cultivation and packaging. From the state of Chihuahua.
He noted that technicians from Senasica and Cofepris collected information on 45 production units and 15 packages respectively in the state. Likewise, last March, authorities from these agencies met with more than 50 vegetable producers in Chihuahua state to share with them good practice guidelines that must be followed to continue exporting onions to the United States.
The federal official highlighted that as a result of these actions, the number of production units certified under the System for Contamination Risk Reduction (SRRC) increased from 3 to 32 during the past two harvest seasons, in addition to 6 vegetables packed in the field.
Roció Guzmán Cervantes, Executive Director of Analytical Controls at Cofepris, representing the second group: Laboratory Collaboration reports that as of this year, Mexican laboratories have the following DNA samples: Cyclospora cayetawhich was shared by the FDA for practical exercises on pathogens.
Likewise, he stressed that personnel from US institutions visited the Senasica and Cofepris laboratories to standardize the testing of hepatitis A, norovirus and Campylobacterand strengthen whole-genome sequencing work.
FDA International Regulatory Analyst Ana Lilia Sandoval, on behalf of the third working group “Outbreak Response”, emphasized that the three agencies finally determined and implemented the “Standard Operating Procedures for Unannounced Inspections of Fresh Food Production Units, Packaging, and Processing” to facilitate business transactions. Provides greater protection. .
He also said that the epidemic notification agreement between the two countries has been strengthened with the aim of establishing more timely and effective communication between authorities during these incidents and taking timely corrective measures.
Finally, Collen Mattingly, International Policy Analyst at the FDA, representing Group 4: Food Safety Training reported that last year, the FDA coordinated 15 training sessions on preventive measures and actions with the support of Senasica and Cofepris. After the outbreak, it is necessary to The measure is imposed on more than 420 producers and packers of onions, melons, strawberries and papayas.