Mexico Suspends Beef and Poultry Shipments to US

GLOBAL - The Mexican government has voluntarily suspended shipments of meat and processed poultry to the US after the country's officials raised concerns about the quality of Mexican food processing and inspections.
calendar icon 5 September 2008
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The US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has identified systemic problems with sanitation controls and record-keeping during an annual audit that took place in Mexico between June 24 and July 31.

The voluntary suspension began on 29 August, said Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for the service. According to USA Today, about 2% of beef and poultry in the U.S. comes from Mexican producers.

"Safety concerns in multiple establishments were not identified by Mexican in-plant inspection personnel, demonstrating that Mexico's system to verify its plants were producing safe food in a clean facility was insufficient," Ms Eamich said.

She said the audit report was not yet completed and would be posted on the agency's web site within 60 days.

It was not known how long the suspension will last as Mexico takes steps to improve food safety.

Food & Water Watch, a consumer advocacy group, said it had raised concerns with the department in late August about Mexico's exports of meat and poultry.

"While we are pleased that the Mexican government decided to suspend its exports voluntarily on Aug. 29, USDA should have taken more decisive action to protect American consumers from unsafe meat imports," said Wenonah Hauter, the group's executive director.

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