Actions of the Secretariats of Economy and Agriculture to Support Food Safety and Quality

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  Press Release No148
El Marqués, Querétaro, July 11, 2012

Progress has been made in matters of food safety and quality as a result of the agreement signed in 2011 by the Secretariats of Economy (SE) and Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (Sagarpa) to support competitiveness in the food sector, through the analysis of quality standards by the National Metrology Center (Centro Nacional de Metrología or CENAM).

The impact of this project will position Mexico among the countries with the highest measurement reliability in the food sector through the use of Certified Reference Materials (CRMs) developed to protect the health of the population.

This involves strengthening the networks of food safety and food quality - the responsibility of the National Service of Agrifood Health, Safety and Quality (Servicio Nacional de Sanidad, Inocuidad y Calidad Agroalimentaria or Senasica), the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (Comisión Federal para la Protección contra Riesgos Sanitarios or Cofepris), and private entities - and promoting the food export economy by protecting the food safety and quality of domestic production for international markets.

Internationally competitive Mexican food products are often attacked by competitors for failing to meet sanitary provisions or for quality reasons. Having reliable measuring references endorsed by the CENAM, under the Secretariat of Economy, along with a reliable network of laboratories such as Senasica, adds extra value to Mexican products.

The urgent introduction of CRMs would enable reliable food safety and food quality analyses, ensuring that Mexican food exports are shielded against possible health alerts in other countries.

The agricultural products, grains, meats and seafood sectors are fully behind the project, with more than 30 letters being sent from representative organizations and enterprises, inspection authorities (Senasica) and laboratories.

This prompted the Sagarpa-Conacyt Sectoral Fund to generate a specific demand to develop CRMs in different products and safety and quality aspects, such as: a) toxic metals in shrimp and broccoli; b) nutritional content of honey, avocado and tomato; c) pesticides in lettuce and tomato; d) GMO corn, wheat and soybean; e) clenbuterol in bovine liver; and f) a manual of microbiological methodologies validated by national and/or international bodies, which prove the safety of foodstuffs such as meat products, fresh vegetables, fruit and seafood.

The Sectoral Fund has allocated 54 million pesos to the project, called "Development of certified reference materials, validation of methods and strengthening of support infrastructure of laboratory networks for food safety and quality," and which runs from February 2012 to February 2013.

The Sagarpa-Conacyt sectoral project and the SE-Sagarpa intersecretariat agreement illustrate the high impact that can be achieved when government, producers and research centers join forces to meet major national challenges.

During the presentation of these advances, held at the National Metrology Center in El Marqués, Querétaro, the Undersecretary for Competitiveness and Business Regulation of the Secretariat of Economy, José Antonio Torre, said that, through the CENAM, priority sectors are being helped to increase their competitiveness. Sagarpa's collaboration has been sought to strengthen actions to benefit national agroindustry, consumers and economic development.

He emphasized that the agreement has helped identify the need for Certified Reference Materials for food safety and quality which will ensure that Mexican food exports are shielded against possible health alerts in other countries.

Meanwhile, the Undersecretary of Agriculture of the Sagarpa, Mariano Ruiz-Funes Macedo, emphasized that to maintain, enhance and increase the competitiveness of Mexican foodstuffs, there is a need for scientific instruments which guarantee high standards of safety and quality analysis.

CRMs, he said, will enable Mexican agricultural and fishery products to obtain better certification and sanitary control for their sale in domestic and international markets.

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