In a collaborative effort, health agencies in Mexico and the US have made significant advancements in enhancing safety measures and detection protocols to ensure fresh food safety for consumers. Through these produce standards, the agencies aim to both safeguard consumers' health and strengthen their vital trade relationship.
Over the past year, producers and marketers of fresh foods have been provided with extensive training on good agricultural practices. This was accompanied by substantial progress in approving laboratory techniques for the timely detection of pathogens, including hepatitis A and Cyclospora cayetanensis. Together, these incentives reinforce the Binational Outbreak Notification Protocol, a critical health protection framework designed to respond swiftly to foodborne disease outbreaks, ensuring the well-being of consumers in both countries.
Key figures from both countries, including David Soriano García, Director General, SENASICA; Bertha María Alcalde Luján, Health Operation Commissioner, COFEPRIS and Donald Prater, Acting Director, FDA, discussed these achievements during the annual meeting of the Alliance for Food Safety.
Soriano García emphasized Mexico's commitment to expanding safety measures in fresh food production and packaging units to benefit both Mexican consumers and it trading partners. He highlighted the significance of SENASICA's Pollution Risk Reduction Systems (SRRC), which certify that optimal hygiene measures have been applied throughout the production, harvesting, packaging and marketing processes.
In April, Mexican experts recalled safety actions taken by SENASICA and COFEPRIS, such as personnel qualification and training in orchards, water usage for agriculture, inspections under the PSR and the Final Standard for Food Traceability, among others. Altogether these measures were all aimed at ensuring optimal food safety for end consumers.
Bertha Alcalde Luján acknowledged that global trade complexities and evolving production methods create new challenges for health surveillance. To curtail potential risks, she stressed the importance of ongoing coordination between Mexico and the US to address them as efficiently as possible. She further noted that agri-food trade between the two countries exceeded US$73 billion in 2022, underscoring the significance of this commercial exchange.
Donald Prater reiterated the FDA's commitment to providing technological tools to ensure Mexican producers and marketers comply with US regulations, particularly regarding traceability and the safe supply of water for agricultural use.
During the meeting, representatives from various fresh produce associations, including the National Association of Berry Exporters (ANEBERRIES), Association of Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM), Association of Mango Exporters of Mexico (EMEX), Organization of Papaya Exporters of Mexico (Proexport Papaya) and the Union of Coriander and Vegetable Exporters of Mexico (UNACOMEX), reaffirmed their commitment to implementing protocols aimed at reducing contamination risks.
“Ensuring safety is not just crucial for maintaining the quality of fresh produce but also for enabling its export to other countries. Prioritizing both consumer well-being and environmental protection forms the foundation of the entire production process and this model should serve as a blueprint for other agriculture-producing states in Mexico as well,” José Armando Lopez Orduña, CEO, APEAM told MBN.