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Import Requirements for Mexican Cantaloupes
December 18, 2007


Review

This document has been circulated to Mexican Embassy in Ottawa, the Canadian Produce Marketing Association and Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Program Network Specialists for their comments.

Amendment Record

This document replaces the Import Requirements for Mexican Cantaloupes issued in February, 2006.

Distribution List

  • Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) Area Network Specialists
  • CFIA field staff, including CFIA Import Service Centre
  • Health Canada (HC), Bureau of Microbial Hazards
  • Mexican Embassy in Ottawa
  • Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA)
  • Fresh Produce Association of the Americas, Nogales, Arizona
  • Posted on the CFIA Internet

Introduction

Since 1990, fresh cantaloupes have been associated with foodborne illnesses in more than 800 cases1 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.

On November 4, 2002, the CFIA issued an Import Alert on all Mexican cantaloupes as a preventive measure to minimize the number of illnesses associated with Mexican cantaloupes. A similar Import Alert on Mexican cantaloupes was issued by the USFDA on October 28, 2002. In response to both Import Alerts, the Mexican Government developed a Cantaloupe Certification Program based on Good Agricultural Practices (GAP's) and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP's).

In December 2002, two 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 constitutes an acceptable approach to minimize the risk of contamination of cantaloupes.

Since the implementation of these Import Requirements, no Mexican cantaloupes shipped to Canada have been found to be contaminated or none caused a foodborne illness outbreak in the United States or in Canada.

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 3.1 (1) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Regulations and Section 4 of the Food and Drugs Act.

Section 3.1 (1) of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Regulations states.

Subject to subsection (2), no person shall market in import, export or interprovincial trade as food unless it:

  1. is not adulterated;
  2. is not contaminated;
  3. is edible;
  4. is free of any live insect, scorpion, snake, spider or other living thing that may be injurious to health;
  5. is prepared in a sanitary manner;
  6. where irradiated, is irradiated in accordance with Division 26 of Part B of the Food and Drug Regulations;
  7. meets all other requirements of the Food and Drugs Act and Food and Drug Regulations with respect to the produce.

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 companies have been certified by the Mexican government (i.e. SENASICA) under the Cantaloupe Certification Program and have maintained a valid certification, which includes a comprehensive traceback system.

Once you arrive at the SENASICA web page select "Directorio de empresas..." for the list of companies.

Please ensure the SENASICA certificate is still valid (the date under the Vigencia) and that the company is listed for "Melon", "Melon Cantaloupe" or "Cantaloupe".

The names of the companies that have been certified by SENASICA are listed on the following website: List of companies

Enforcement of the Import Requirements

The following enforcement policy applies to all Mexican cantaloupes entering Canada.

  • CFIA will maintain an Import Alert on all Mexican cantaloupes.
  • When a shipment of Mexican cantaloupes arrives at the Canadian border, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) will fax the COS to the CFIA's Import Service Centre for review.
  • If the COS does not indicate, under box 22, the name of the company as listed by SENASICA, the Import Service Centre will recommend "Refuse Entry" to CBSA.
  • If the COS indicates, under box 22, the name of one of the certified companies listed by SENASICA, the CFIA's Import Service Centre will recommend to CBSA the release of the shipment of Mexican cantaloupes at the Canadian Border. Then, the Import Service Centre will inform the CFIA's destination office that a shipment of Mexican cantaloupes has arrived at its destination.
  • CFIA inspectors should occasionally inspect shipments of Mexican cantaloupes that have entered into Canada, to ensure their compliance with the present Import Requirements. If a lot of Mexican cantaloupes does not meet the Import Requirements, CFIA inspectors will immediately detain it and require that it be removed from Canada as per Section 30 of the Canada Agricultural Products Act. Mexican cantaloupes that have been distributed and do not meet the requirements, can be recalled.

1 Information taken from the USFDA Produce Safety at Retail: Safe Handling Practices for Melons.