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Import requirements for Mexican cantaloupes

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Since 1990, fresh cantaloupes have been associated with foodborne illnesses in more than 800 casesFootnote 1 in both the United States (U.S.) and Canada. In April/May 2001, Mexican cantaloupes contaminated with Salmonella Poona caused two deaths in the U.S. and numerous illnesses in both the U.S. and Canada. In May 2002 an outbreak associated with Mexican cantaloupes contaminated with the same pathogen caused numerous illnesses in four U.S. States, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

In December 2002, 2 CFIA officials visited Mexico to validate the Mexican Cantaloupe Certification Program and its implementation in order to establish an acceptance of the growers and packers that are being inspected under this Program. CFIA officials found that the Mexican Certification Program was an acceptable approach to minimize the risk of contamination of cantaloupes.

The Mexican government has now replaced the cantaloupe certification program with the System for the Reduction of Contamination Risks (SRRC). Developed by Mexico's National Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety and Quality Service (SENASICA), it aims to ensure that risks of contamination of agriculture, aquaculture, seafood, and livestock products are reduced. Participation by producers in this system for contamination risk reduction is voluntary. To be certified under the SRRC, producers must meet minimum requirements for good agricultural practices and food safety. The CFIA has determined that Mexico's SRRC constitutes an acceptable approach to minimize the risk of contamination of cantaloupes.

Scope of these import requirements

The following import requirements are applicable to all fresh cantaloupes grown and packed in Mexico. Mexican cantaloupes harvesting and shipping season starts at the end of October and finishes in June, with a peak shipping season in April and May.

Legislative authority

Section 8(1)(a) Safe Food for Canadians Regulations and Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act.

Section 8(1)(a) Safe Food for Canadian Regulations states:

Any food that is sent or conveyed from one province to another or that is imported or exported must not be contaminated.

Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act states:

No person shall sell an article of food that;

  1. has in or on it any poisonous or harmful substance
  2. is unfit for human consumption
  3. consists in whole or in part of any filthy, putrid, disgusting, rotten, decomposed or diseased animal or vegetable substance
  4. is adulterated; or
  5. was manufactured, prepared, preserved, packaged or stored under unsanitary conditions

Import requirements

CFIA will allow the importation of Mexican cantaloupes if the growers/packers have been certified by the Mexican government under the System for the Reduction of Contamination Risks (SRRC).

A list of certified grower/packers can be obtained from the SENASICA website (Spanish only).

Originally issued December 18, 2007 (Information Letter To Industry)

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