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Ambassador Garza urges exporters to learn more about the Bioterrorism Act

Mexico City
October 9, 2003

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today its interim regulations for food imports for human or animal consumption, which will affect many Mexican exporters when the Bioterrorism Act takes effect December 12.

"With the help of the Mexican government and trade associations, we want to spread the word to exporters on how they can make sure their products comply with these requirements for food safety," U. S. Ambassador Antonio O. Garza, Jr. said Thursday. "From the biggest beer company to the family truck farmer, our aim is help Mexicans learn how to register with the FDA."

The "Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002," became law on June 12, 2002, but the provisions affecting all domestic and foreign producers that manufacture, process, pack or store food for consumption in the United States takes effect in two months on December 12. The law is designed to protect against bioterrorist threats to the food supply, giving the FDA better tools to track shipments and contain any terrorist attack.

"We understand that while it may take some time to adjust, we predict that these regulations will soon become as routine as a customs declaration, without causing any disruption in U.S.-Mexico commerce," the Ambassador said. "The U.S. is not seeking to limit trade in any way, only to better track shipments of food and protect our citizens against the threat of a biological attack. We believe these regulations to be consistent with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA.)"

The best way to learn about the Bioterrorism Act regulations is by Internet, at the website:
(Click on Bioterrorism Act. )

Most foreign food producers - but not farms -- will have to register with the FDA if they wish to export to the U.S.A. Registration will be simple, straightforward, and will be handled expeditiously over the Internet. There will be no charge for registration.

To register, an exporter needs a U.S. agent, either an individual, company or a trade association.

The U.S. will require prior notice on the importation of food products starting no later than December 12, 2003. The prior notification will be done through the existing U.S. Customs system or by Internet. The Mexican exporter or the U.S. importer can file the prior notification.

The U.S. Government, including the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City and our consulates throughout the country, is working to inform food exporters, business and trade associations, agricultural producers and customs agents of the requirements of this new law to ensure that implementation is as smooth as possible. The U.S. is coordinating closely with the Mexican government.

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