Food safety, certification programmes, animal safety and disease

Livestock legislation

List the main applicable enacted legislation for primary processors of live animals.

One of the most regulated agribusiness activities in Mexico is the animal food industry. There are federal and local laws and regulations, Mexican Official Standards and general decrees that range from the handling and care that should be given to livestock during their life cycles to the way in which slaughter must be carried out for its subsequent processing and human consumption.

However, the main applicable enacted regulations that provide a uniform regime for animal products are:

  • the Federal Law on Animal Health;
  • the Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms;
  • the General Health Law;
  • the Regulation for the Sanitary Control of Products and Services;
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-012-ZOO-1993 (specifications for the regulation of chemical, pharmaceutical, biological and food products for use in or consumption by animals); and
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-008-ZOO-1994 (animal health specifications for the construction and equipment of establishments for the slaughter of animals and those dedicated to the industrialisation of meat products).
Food safety regime

Describe food safety regulations for meat and poultry products, and all other food products in your jurisdiction.

For the sanitary control of food, including meat and poultry products, there must be an up-to-date operating notice and compliance with the provisions of the following enacted regulations:

  • the General Health Law;
  • the Regulation for the Sanitary Control of Products and Services;
  • the Federal Law on Animal Health and its Regulation;
  • the Federal Law on Plant Health and its Regulation;
  • the Law on Organic Products and its Regulation;
  • the General Law on Sustainable Fisheries and Aquaculture;
  • the Law on Biosafety of Genetically Modified Organisms;
  • the Law on Rural Development;
  • the Federal Law on Plant Varieties and its Regulation; and
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-251-SSA1-2009 (hygiene practices for the processing of food, drinks or food supplements).

 

In general terms, the above-mentioned federal laws regulate everything related to any food product in Mexico. However, there are also specific Mexican Official Standards, depending on the product being processed, for example:

  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-194-SSA1-2004, applicable to establishments dedicated to the slaughter and dressing of animals for supply, storage, transport and sale;
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-213-SSA1-2002, applicable to processed meat products;
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-242-SSA1-2009, applicable to fresh, chilled, frozen and processed fish products;
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-243-SSA1-2010, applicable to milk, milk formula, combined dairy product and dairy derivatives; and
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-201-SSA1-2002, applicable to water and ice for human consumption, packaged and in bulk.
Safety enforcement

What enforcement can take place in relation to food safety? What penalties may apply?

Administrative sanctions

The relevant legislation contains a list of types of conduct that are considered administrative infringements, which, depending on the severity of the conduct and the damage caused, can be punished through a fine, temporary or definitive closure, and suspensions, revocations or cancellations of authorisations and permits.

For example, the mobilisation, importation or exportation of vegetables, their products or by-products and inputs subject to phytosanitary control, without counting, when required, the phytosanitary certificate, can result in a fine along with the suspension, in a precautionary manner, of authorisations, permits or approvals granted to the infringer.

As for the Federal Law on Animal Health, there are certain requirements that must be met in respect of vehicles and the transportation of live animals, animal goods and products for use in or consumed by animals when they involve a zoosanitary or contamination risk. If these requirements are not met, a fine will be imposed along with the suspension of the corresponding authorisation.

 

Criminal sanctions

Within the laws in charge of regulating food safety, there is a list of conducts that constitute criminal offences and are punished with imprisonment and a fine; for example, it is a criminal offence to move into the national territory or transport or trade within it live animals, their products or by-products that have been fed with an illegal substance.

 

Civil liabilities

According to the Federal Civil Code, a person who acts illicitly and causes damage to another is obliged to repair the damage unless it can be shown that the damage occurred as a result of fault or inexcusable negligence of the victim. In this scenario, if producers and suppliers do not comply with the legislation for food safety and, by not doing so, it is proved that they caused damage to another person (eg, defective or contaminated food or food ingredients), they may be liable and will have to pay compensation to the affected party.

Product certification

Describe any certification programmes and regulations for genetically modified foods and organic foods.

The main enacted legislation includes the Law on Biosecurity of Genetically Modified Organisms and its Regulations, which contain regulations on the activities relating to confined use, experimental release, commercialisation, import and export of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to prevent or reduce the possible risks that those activities could cause to human health, the environment, biological diversity or animal, plant and aquaculture health.

Additionally, regulations on GMOs can be found in the following laws:

  • the Federal Law on Animal Health;
  • the Federal Law on Plant Health;
  • the Law on Organic Products; and
  • the Federal Law on the Production, Certification and Trade of Seeds

 

All these regulations refer to safety and sanitary requirements that any GMO must comply with to prove that they can be distributed among the population. In that sense, the producer or interested party must obtain a marketing authorisation from the Federal Commission for Protection against Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) that will enable its distribution and importation.

Food labelling requirements

What are the food labelling requirements, including the applicable enacted legislation, enforcement and penalties?

The food labelling requirements must be in Spanish, clear, understandable, accurate, useful for the consumer and supported by scientific and technical information. They must include, among other things, the following:

  • name of the product;
  • producer’s name;
  • country of origin,
  • ingredients;
  • net content;
  • expiration date;
  • lot;
  • nutritional content; and
  • front-of-pack nutritional label and warnings.

 

These requirements are regulated in the following legislation:

  • the General Health Law;
  • the Regulation for the Sanitary Control of Products and Services;
  • the Federal Law for Consumer Protection;
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-050-SCFI-2004 (commercial information and general labelling for products); and
  • Mexican Official Standard NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010 (general specifications for the labelling of food and non-alcoholic beverages).

 

On 8 November 2019, important amendments to the General Health Law came into force, stating that front-of-pack warning labelling of food and non-alcoholic beverages that exceed the maximum limits for, among other things, energy content, added sugars, saturated fats and sodium should be stated separately and independently from the ingredient and nutritional information.

As a consequence, and to comply with these modifications made to the General Health Law, on 27 March 2020, amendments to the Mexican Official Standard NOM-051-SCFI/SSA1-2010 (general specifications for the labelling of food and non-alcoholic beverages) were approved.

Therefore, as of 1 October 2020, any pre-packaged food and non-alcoholic beverage that exceeds the maximum limits for energy content, added sugars, saturated fats and sodium that is marketed in national territory must include an independent front-of-pack warning label with the applicable warning seals or sweetener inscription.

Additionally, according to those amendments to the Mexican Official Standard, as of 1 April 2021, if the pre-packed product includes one or more warning seals or a sweetener inscription, the label must not include:

  • childish characters, animations, animated cartoons, celebrities, athletes or mascots;
  • interactive elements, such as visual-spatial games or digital downloads, addressed to children, encouraging or promoting the consumption, purchase or selection of products that have an excess of critical nutriments or contain sweeteners; and
  • references on the label to unconnected elements of the product with the purpose of encouraging or promoting the consumption, purchase or selection of products that have an excess of critical nutriments or contain sweeteners.

 

The enforcement of the above-mentioned laws and the imposition of sanctions mainly lie with COFEPRIS. Sanctions are of an administrative nature (fines, temporary or definitive closure, and suspensions, revocations or cancellations of authorisations and permits). However, compensation derived from civil liability is also a possibility if the affected party can prove that the damage suffered was a direct consequence of non-compliance with the food labelling requirements.

Food animal legislation

List the main applicable enacted legislation regarding health of food animals, including transportation and disease outbreak and management.

The regulatory framework concerning the health of food animals is extensive and composed of laws, regulations, Mexican Official Standards and general decrees, regulating, among other things, the requirements concerning and the procedures of animal transportation and the way in which the establishments where any product used on or to be consumed by animals should be handled.

In general terms, the Federal Law on Animal Health is the basis for many important Mexican Official Standards, such as the following.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-024-ZOO-1995

This standard regulates the specifications and zoosanitary characteristics concerning the transportation of animals, their products and by-products, chemical, pharmaceutical, biological and food products for use in or consumption by animals. It prohibits the transportation of sick animals unless it is for the purpose of treatment in a specialised clinic, preferably close to the place of origin, or its slaughter in authorised slaughterhouses. In addition, vehicles intended for the transport of all types of animals must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each transfer.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-054-ZOO-1996

This standard seeks to avoid the entry into the country of diseases, as well as preventing and controlling the propagation of those that are already in Mexico, and regulates the establishment of different types of quarantine (internal, external, total, conditional and preventive), depending on the particularities of the case, for animals and their products.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-012-ZOO-1993

This standard regulates chemical, pharmaceutical, biological and food products for use in or consumption by animals. It includes specifications on the characteristics that the storage and unloading areas of the products must fulfil, depending on whether the product is the raw material or the finished product.

Compliance with the above-mentioned regulations is monitored by the National Service for Agri-food Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA), with its authority dependent on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Animal movement restrictions

What are the restrictions on the movement of animals within your country?

The general rule is that animal transportation is always permitted. However, according to Mexican Official Standard NOM-024-ZOO-1995, it is prohibited to transport sick animals unless it is for the purpose of treatment in a specialised clinic, preferably close to the place of origin, or its slaughter in authorised slaughterhouses.

Vehicles used for transportation must be cleaned and disinfected before and after each transfer and, if the travel time will be over eight hours, the vehicles must have an area to dispose of corpses that is large enough to contain up to 10 per cent of the animals that are transported.

Additional restrictions may also apply in consideration of national campaigns against any disease, which may involve forced quarantine to face or prevent the propagation of those diseases.

Slaughter legislation

Where would one find the regulations related to livestock slaughtering?

Federal Law on Animal Health

This is the general law from which many Mexican Official Standards are derived. The authority in charge of its enforcement is SENASICA.

 

Regulation for the Sanitary Control of Products and Services

This regulation is aimed at animal products; however, it also refers to animal slaughtering. For instance, it provides that animals that arrive dead or sick with any disease indicated by the competent authorities should be slaughtered and incinerated immediately. It also states that meat cannot be distributed or sold if the animal died for reasons other than slaughter.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-008-ZOO-1994

This standard regulates the zoosanitary specifications that must be met for the construction of facilities and related equipment for animal slaughterhouses and for the industrialisation of meat products. The federal government enforced this legislation. However, if a slaughterhouse is located in state and municipal jurisdictions, the relevant state and municipal regulations may apply.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-009-Z00-1994

This standard regulates the sanitary process of meat and provides the procedures to be followed by animal slaughterhouses and those that process, pack and refrigerate meat products or by-products for human consumption, with the purpose of obtaining products that satisfy all sanitary requirements.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-012-ZOO-1993

This standard provides regulation on the methods for killing domestic and wild animals, aimed at public or private establishments where animals are killed for the purpose of food supply, research, verification tests, teaching, hunting, fur or any other type of use.

 

Mexican Official Standard NOM-051-ZOO-1995

This standard provides the ethical standards and systems for the movement and transportation of animals, seeking to avoid or reduce their suffering during the process.

Pest control requirements

Outline the regulatory regime for pesticides in your jurisdiction.

Regulation of pesticides can be found in the federal laws on animal and plant health, as well as the General Health Law and Mexican Official Standards, such as:

  • NOM-032-SAG/FITO-2014, which establishes the phytosanitary requirements and specifications for conducting biological effectiveness studies of agricultural pesticides and technical opinions; and
  • NOM-033-FITO-1995 and NOM-034-FITO-1995, which provide the phytosanitary requirements and specifications that must be met by individuals or entities interested in manufacturing, importing and marketing agricultural pesticides.

 

To be able to market a pesticide in Mexico, the interested party must obtain a marketing authorisation from COFEPRIS. The full process may involve several authorities and procedures, such as:

  • importing experimental samples or the finished product of the pesticide, in which case, the interested party must request and obtain an import permit from either COFEPRIS or the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (if the import permit is for a finished product, it must have a marketing authorisation);
  • requesting an evaluation of biological effectiveness studies in the field before SENASICA and the obtaining of a favourable technical opinion; and
  • filing a marketing authorisation before COFEPRIS once a favourable technical opinion has been received.

Law stated date

Correct on

Give the date on which the information above is accurate.

25 August 2020.