via a special arrangement with Informa Economics, Inc.
Mexico stepping up sanitary controls
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction
or retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.
Mexican officials have denied Sen.
Chuck Grassley's (R-Iowa) accusations that temporarily halted meat imports
from around 30 U.S. meat plants was a retaliation against the U.S. mandatory
country-of-origin labeling (MCOOL) policy.
“I believe it is directly related,” said Grassley.
“I don’t know how serious they are about it, but
they have cut off imports of meat from certain plants. And so we’ll
have to look into it. The bright line is that when you interfere with
the production of food, it’s got to be based upon science and
not on politics.”
A U.S.-based Mexican official familiar with the trade issue
said there was no connection between the import ban and labeling
policy and said that the situation was being politicized, according
to the Congressional Quarterly (CQ). The official said Mexican
inspectors at the border determined that products from the specified
plants were not up to sanitary standards agreed to by both countries.
Some had been improperly frozen, emitted a bad odor or contained hair,
The official said that Mexico is working in good faith to relist
all the U.S. meat plants.
Mexico has filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization
(WTO), contending the country-of-origin rules violate free
trade agreements. Mexican officials said they are waiting for the U.S.
to respond to their concerns about the requirements. Mexico filed a
request for consultation with the United States, contending that the
new requirements “appear to nullify or impair the benefits accruing
to Mexico under those [free trade] agreements.”
Grassley said Mexico’s WTO complaint is baseless.
“We get T-shirts from Guatemala or maybe even from Mexico that
are labeled “Made in Mexico,” Grassley said, according to
CQ. “So what difference does it make if the food is labeled
as being — coming from Mexico?”
Mexican Agriculture Minister Alberto Cardenas recently his
government was stepping up sanitary controls to keep contaminated meat
out of Mexico. "We are strengthening our system. There
are more public funds now than ever to invest in specialists, laboratories
and set up a network of controls at ports, airports," Cardenas
said at a news conference.
This column is copyrighted material, therefore reproduction or
retransmission is prohibited under U.S. copyright laws.