Mexico and U.S. work closely to maintain fresh food safety
The two-country Outbreak Notification Agreement, a health protection scheme, has been strengthened through training on good agricultural practices for fresh food producers and marketers and approval of laboratory technology.
Health agencies, academia and production sectors in both countries are working to provide greater safety to consumers.
Author: HT Agency
Mexico City. – As part of joint work on food safety, Mexico and the United StatesGood agricultural practice training for fresh food producers and sellers has been significantly enhanced in the last year, with significant progress being made in approving laboratory technologies for timely detection of pathogens, e.g. Hepatitis A and Cyclospora.
These actions help strengthen bilateral agreements Epidemic Noticewhich allows us to respond quickly to detections of foodborne illness, thereby protecting the health of consumers in both countries.
The above was reported during the Annual Meeting Food Safety Allianceled by the general manager National Agricultural Products Health, Safety and Quality Service for Agricultural Products, Aquaculture and Fisheries Safety (Senacia), David Soriano Garcia; 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 highlighted that the safety program run 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. Established hygiene measures are adopted during the packaging and sale of fresh vegetables.
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.
Bertha Alcalde Luján, Hygiene Operations Specialist at Cofepris, pointed out that global trade has led to a more extensive and complex food supply chain, coupled with innovations in production methods and new consumption habits, bringing new challenges to food production. Health monitoring.
He added that this follows from the importance of maintaining coordination between the two countries to jointly address health challenges.
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.
FDA Commissioner Donald Platt commented that 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 commercial exchanges 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 production sectors in both countries to provide better Ensure the safety of fresh food for consumers.
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 the National Association of Berry Exporters (Aneberry), the Mexican Association of Producers and Packers Exporters (APEAM) and the Mexican Mango Exporters Association (Emex); the Mexican Papaya Exporters Organization (Proexport Papaya) and the Mexican Cilantro and Vegetables Association Exporters Union (Unacomex).
Each association presented the actions they have taken to improve food safety and their traceability plans.
Senasica informed producers of its actions on traceability and presented the application development of the SRRC “Traceability” module 8 as a basic technical requirement for certification and accreditation, as well as supporting material dissemination and training. is generated to implement this tool.
During the meeting, FDA staff provided an update on the progress of the new traceability rule, specifically as it relates to additional requirements for traceability records for certain foods.
He also announced new U.S. agricultural water regulations, which are designed to allow fresh food producers to conduct comprehensive assessments of their gardens to calculate and prevent risks posed by irrigation water sources to avoid the emergence of disease-causing pathogens. in humans.
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 at this session.
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.
He highlighted that as a result of these actions taken over the past two harvest seasons, the number of production units certified by the SRRC increased from 3 to 32, in addition to 6 vegetables packed in the fields.
Roció Guzmán Cervantes, executive director of analytical controls at Cofepris, representing Group 2: Laboratory Collaboration, reported that as of this year, a Mexican laboratory had a DNA sample of Cyclospora cayetanensis that the FDA had shared for practical exercises with the pathogen.
Likewise, he stressed that personnel from the US agency visited Senasica and Cofepris laboratories to understand their standards and strengthen their efforts to standardize hepatitis A, norovirus and campylobacter testing technologies. for whole genome sequencing.
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, FDA International Policy Analyst Collen Mattingly, representing Group 4: Food Safety Training, said that last year the agency coordinated 15 training sessions on the precautions and actions that must be taken in the wake of the outbreak, with support from Senasica and Cofepris, and more than 420 Domestic producers and packers of onions, melons, strawberries and papayas are affected.