Regs Still Lax for Mexican Veggies Heading North

Many producers are privately certified, but enforcement is up to industry
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 14, 2008 7:00 PM CDT
While some Mexican producers grow fruits and vegetables under strict sanitary conditions for export to the U.S., many don't, and they can still send their produce across the border easily.    (AP Photo/ Monica Rueda)
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(Newser) – How strong is food safety regulation after America's worst food-borne outbreak in a decade? A peek at a Mexican packing plant shows that rules are nearly nonexistent, the AP reports. The plant in northern Mexico, suspected of sparking the recent salmonella outbreak that sickened 1,400, washes produce from certified and uncertified growers—but even regulated producers aren't on any government list.

Mexican producers only need to register online to export to the US, where the FDA inspects less than 1% of all imports, leaving food safety in the hands of industry. This free market regulation gives Mexico’s many sanitary producers a bad name, one farmer says: "Those who grow in open fields will ruin it for those who produce in greenhouses, and that's not fair."