CIDH & Eleven Rivers participate in a working table with the North America Produce Food Safety Working Group

Last May 22, a work meeting was held through the Zoom platform, developed by the North America Produce Food Safety Working Group. CIDH Manager Mario Robles & FPAA Manager Lance Jungmeyer were in charge of welcoming the attendees and opening the event. Our Eleven Rivers Growers Manager, Georgius Gotsis Fontes also participated. Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad (SENASICA), the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) were also a part of this meeting, as well as other farming associations from Mexico, the US and Canada.

The purpose of this working group is seeking coordination to ensure a safe food supply chain for the three countries, always seeking collaboration on food safety matters, sharing the findings of the latest research for prevention of foodborne diseases.

Participants recognized the significant work of farming companies in providing the necessary food to feed the three countries, even now in the face of the global public health crisis caused by COVID-19.

Eng. Taide Figueroa Cano, Head of GMOs Opinion at the Ministry of Agriculture, shared that the CFIA in Canada has accepted the Sistema de Reducción de Riesgos de Contaminación (SRRC) (Contamination Risk Reduction System) as a robust system that ensures the quality and food safety of Mexican products. Specifically, all exports of Mexican melons and cilantro being sent to Canada will be obliged to bring this certification.

SENASICA shared that it has conducted 24 trainings on the FSMA of FDA in 24 States to over 500 growers. Vanessa Noelte, International Policy Analyst at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that there has been good coordination with Mexico for the safe food supply, and a good tool to achieve this has been the protocols applied through the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP).

FDA stated that as of May 13, the Food Safety of Fresh Farming Products Standard is now available in Spanish; as it was published on the website. She also said that the agency is using data analysis for outbreaks detection, which has now become a very powerful tool for them. They also mentioned the On-Farm Readiness Review (OFRR) Program, being carried out both domestically and in foreign countries, and the purpose of it is to ensure compliance with the FSMA’s Produce Safety Rule (PSR) by companies, for which they conduct a visit entitled “Walk Around Questions” (WAQ) which is a company inspection, lasting about 2-4 hours around the company facilities: field, harvest and packaging areas, and they are asking questions based on metrics applicable to the company in accordance with the PSR.

They said the most frequent observations are related to sanitation, education, trained personnel, and health and hygiene issues.

They also indicated that in a joint work with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and the FDA, they are analyzing the most efficient digital platforms to share high-quality training on the Produce Safety Rule, and they will soon be making it available to growers.

A new working table was proposed to be carried in dates near to PMA.