The recent meeting between food safety regulators in the United States and Mexico holds special significance to us, since we have operations and customers on both sides of the border. Fortunately, this collaboration mimics the cross border efforts within the industry. Invisible country borders shouldn’t get in the way of food safety- – hazards know no boundaries, and consumers everywhere deserve safe food.
First, some introduction. We at CYCAT LLC are proud to be the first food testing laboratory in the US accredited to FDA’s Laboratory Accreditation for Analyses of Foods (LAAF) program, in addition to being certified to ISO 17025. But we’re more than just a lab. We strive to be your partner, sharing our knowledge and insights to help you maximize your food safety efforts. Our full service lab based near Houston, TX is new, but we’re not new to testing food. Our sister lab in Mexico, Agrolab, is also accredited to LAAF, and was the first lab in Mexico with this designation. With over 25 Collection Center locations in Mexico, Agrolab is the largest provider of food testing services.
With Agrolab, we have a longstanding collaborative relationship with SENASICA and COFEPRIS. At CYCAT LLC we are just learning the intricacies of how the US food safety regulatory system works, building those connections with FDA officials. Given the global nature of the food supply, and especially the mutual dependence of food related trade between Mexico and the US, it’s critical that regulators in both countries establish strong relationships and work jointly on initiatives.
The partnership is not new. It officially began in 2014 and in2020 expanded from a produce focus to encompass food more broadly. The dialogue is critical, since the agencies rely on each other when food outbreaks occur. Ultimately, however, regulators don’t make food, and it’s equally as important that the food industry pursue similar collaborative efforts. Two recent examples are worth of mention.
Perhaps the greatest example of partnership and collaboration began in 2019, following many years of outbreaks in the US associated with the consumption of papayas from Mexico. This industry-driven initiative was spearheaded by the Texas International Produce Association (TIPA), headquartered in Mission TX, very close to the Pharr Bridge, which is a main port of entry for Mexican produce. The sustained effort is due to the strong partnership between TIPA and ProExport Papaya, the papaya association in Mexico. The activities that have contributed to the initiative success—no outbreaks since 2019—are too numerous to describe here. But Agrolab, which has served many Mexican papaya growers for years, is thrilled to support some recent progressive activities with this group.
Another example of collaboration that needs no Introduction is avocados !!! Yes, we all love avocados from México. The season has just started, and we have our favorite teams agreeing that the next Super Bowl will be with family, friends, and “Guacamole”.
The produce safety industries in Mexico and the US are becoming better connected through the efforts of the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA). Through it’s predecessor, PMA, IFPA has held the “Mexican Conference” for many years, but food safety was rarely a focus. With the formation of IFPA came the commitment to augment the IFPA “Food Safety Council” with an affiliate group based in Mexico, focused on the needs of the produce safety community in the country.
As CYCAT LLC grows in the US, and as Agrolab continues to operate in Mexico, we see increased value in these initiatives that serve to improve food safety in both countries.