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The US lifts restrictions on Mexican tomato imports

After four years of technical arguments between Mexico's National Food Health, Safety, and Quality Service (Senasica) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the United States has lifted restrictions on Mexican tomato imports due to the tomato brown rugose fruit virus. As of June 17, Mexican producers who export this vegetable to the United States will no longer need to include an inspection certificate on their shipments.

Senasica reported that the USDA issued Federal Order DA-2024-21 rescinding the import requirements for tomatoes after the APHIS concluded fresh fruit for consumption is an unlikely pathway for the introduction of ToBRFV into tomato and pepper production areas. This order regulates only the importation of tomato and pepper propagation material, including seeds, and excludes fresh produce.

On June 3, 2020, the USDA amended the phytosanitary requirements for the import of hosts of Tomato Brown Rugose Fruit Virus (ToBRFV), requiring Mexican shipments to be accompanied by a certificate of inspection. This certificate had to include details such as the date of inspection, name, title, and signature of the person issuing the certificate, as well as the names and addresses of the producer and packer.

After the order was issued, Senasica initiated talks with the US health authority, arguing that the fresh fruit for consumption was not a pathway for the ToBRFV because it wasn't used for reproduction purposes.

According to Senasica, the tomatoes with tomato brown rugose fruit virus symptoms do not pose any risk to humans if consumed or decrease the harvest's value. The tomato is a vegetable of great importance nationally and internationally due to its extensive consumption, planted area, and the economic value of its production. Mexico produces 3.4 million tons of tomatoes a year and the planting of tomatoes generates more than 400,000 direct jobs and one million indirect jobs.

Mexico is the world's eighth-biggest tomato producer. Sinaloa, San Luis Potosi, Michoacan, Jalisco, Baja California Sur, and Zacatecas are the main producers states. After supplying the domestic market, the country exports 1.8 million tons of tomatoes to destinations such as the United States, Canada, Japan, Costa Rica, the United Arab Emirates, and Brazil.


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