(Expansión) – This Monday the federal government presented the “Opening Agreement against Inflation and Famine” whose essence, as explained, is that the costs of energy and the 24 products of the basic basket do not increase in price. It was signed by 16 businessmen.
Without a doubt, the initiative is positive and of the greatest relevance to support Mexicans to face times where they find economic increases in everything, except in their personal finances.
The new plan in the face of the high establishes 10 specific actions, among which are containing the price of fuel, freezing the cost of highways, eliminating tariffs on food imports and promoting the local production of inputs that are part of the basic basket, guaranteeing your supply.
However, there is a particular point that should be alerted to avoid a crisis where the cheap could eventually be more expensive for the country, but especially for those citizens who seek to benefit from these measures and that refers to allowing importation. of food without sanitary supervision of any kind, suspending the verification of any regulation that is considered that could make the importation of food and its mobility within the country more expensive.
When presenting the proposal, the Secretary of the Treasury stated that “based on the confidence that the Federal Government grants to the signatory companies, it will give them a Universal Single License to carry out the distribution and importation of food or supplies that exempts them from all procedure or permits such as that of the National Service for Health, Food Safety and Quality (Senasica) and the Federal Commission for the Protection against Sanitary Risks (Cofepris)” .
That is, the federal government is ceding its responsibility and letting the food suppliers, in an act of good faith, be judge and party to qualify the quality of the food they import under the aforementioned agreement: “With these licenses, the companies undertake to carry out the necessary verification to ensure that the food that is imported and distributed is of quality and is free of both health and other contingencies.
In other words, if something were to go wrong in this area, those who would pay the cost of giving a blank check on the quality of sensitive imported foods such as chicken, beef, pork, tuna or eggs would be the citizens and, particularly , those with fewer resources and with fewer options to choose between the cheapest products, but without health verification, of the higher cost products that remained subject to regulation.
Over the decades, the identification of diseases in the food industry in the world has been a reality, which explains the creation of national regulatory bodies responsible for warning and preventing health risks.
Let us remember the avian flu, a disease that was transmitted between birds and that jumped to humans, or the case of mad cow disease, where it was discovered that bovine spongiform encephalopathy could be transmitted to people, producing a deadly disease and a neurodegenerative pathology. of serious consequences.
In 2008, the British Food Control Agency withdrew pork from supermarkets due to a contamination alert from Ireland that could affect twenty countries, warning consumers of the risks of consuming imported pork where toxic dioxins would have been found. to health.
In an article on how mad cow disease was managed, in light of evidence suggesting that COVID-19 could have made the leap to humans from an animal colony, it is noted that the list of diseases with the potential to be transmitted from animals to people is long and for this reason the health authorities of Europe have been working for 25 years to avoid another health crisis caused by .
It should be noted that in Mexico the National Agrifood Health, Safety and Quality Service (Senasica) itself has a system that reports almost daily the identification of contaminated food in the world, as well as the report on whether these products have been imported into our country. For example, in reported “Netherlands : Rejection of beef imported from France due to detection of Listeria monocytogenes”; “Poland : Withdrawal from the market of chicken meat due to the detection of Salmonella spp”.
However, this fundamental function carried out by SENASICA, a State agency considered to be a national security agency, apparently in these times is being seen as an eccentric exercise susceptible to savings that can be dispensed with.
On the other hand, it is surprising that the 16 companies that signed the plan, including the transnational Walmart, theoretically subject to strict regulatory and compliance policies, are willing to run the risk of assuming the responsibility of self-certifying compliance with health safety parameters of their products, since in the event that a case of food contamination occurs in Mexico, they will also have to assume serious reputational damage.
In any case, it must be pondered that the savings cannot be at the expense of public health and that the State bodies cannot waive their legal mandates, much less the responsibilities derived from not carrying them out, so It would be reasonable to rule out this point as it entails risks for citizens, and responsibilities for authorities and companies.
Without wishing to underestimate the social and civic dimension that the president recognized to the signatory businessmen and above all their good will and commitment to the people of Mexico, better for the good of all as the Russian proverb points out, “trust, but verify” .
Editor’s note: Jaime Talancón (@_talancon_) is a consultant in conflict prevention and crisis management. This is a space of , a think tank that records in detail the most relevant economic variables in the country. Follow them on , e . The opinions published in this column belong exclusively to the author.