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Assessment Report of Costa Rica's Food Safety Control System for Fresh Fruit
9.0 Closing meeting

The closing meeting was held with MOH, MAG and a representative from the Canadian Embassy in Costa Rica on March 9, 2018. The CFIA team thanked the MOH and the SFE for their efforts in supporting the mission, and in their openness and transparency in facilitating understanding of Costa Rica's current food safety system. An open discussion was held to give MOH and MAG an opportunity to clarify the team's observations and recommendations. This served to reinforce the good relations that CFIA has with MOH and MAG with respect to the safety of FF that is marketed in Canada.

9.1 Observations

Several areas were highlighted where Costa Rica could further strengthen their program. These were shared with the CA during the closing meeting.

Costa Rica has a well-developed program to monitor and prevent chemical contamination and, has established general food safety requirements for the production of safe FF.

Costa Rica is working to enhance their national food safety program legislative system to strengthen government oversight and coordination by redefining the roles and responsibilities of the parties involved. They have made significant investments in laboratory capacity to support the future integrated national food safety program.

The CFIA team observed that the period of validity for the sanitary operating permit varied from 1 to 5 years depending on the type of operation. The MOH recognized inconsistencies in meeting the legal requirement (1 year).

The MOH is required to conduct an on-site inspection of the facility once the permit has been issued. However, the CFIA did not observe evidence of this. The MOH advised that they are revising their regulations to ensure inspections are conducted consistently.

Even though GMPs are the criteria used to evaluate operations with a sanitary operating permit of the operations visited, the government does not require operators to implement a food safety plan. GAPs and GMPs are the foundation for the development of a comprehensive food safety system. They do not take the place of one.

The CFIA team recognised that the MOH and the SFE are working with other partners on the Inter-sectoral Commission to develop and implement a NFSS which will provide a more integrated and coordinated approach to food safety in the future.

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