FDA is collaborating with its regulatory counterparts in Mexico, the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) and the National Service of Agro-Alimentary Health, Safety, and Quality (SENASICA), to improve food safety in both countries. The countries signed a statement of intent designed to broaden and strengthen the scope of their existing food safety partnership to include the safety of all human food regulated by FDA.
“With 60% of fresh produce imports to the United States originating from Mexico, it is essential that the FDA be able to coordinate and integrate approaches to food safety prevention and response with Mexican government authorities,” says Thomas Burke, a food safety and traceability scientist with the Institute of Food Technologists. “Previous prominent, multi-state foodborne outbreaks have required cooperation between the FDA, COFEPRIS, and SENASICA, such as the cilantro-associated Cyclospora outbreaks [in 2019].”
The agreement is expected to bolster public health protection in both countries and prevent foodborne illness by using modern technology, preventive practices based on technical and scientific evidence, and improved actions of health surveillance and verification measures.
“U.S. consumers rely on imports from Mexico for much of the fresh fruit and vegetables that they eat, as well as other foods,” Stephen M. Hahn, FDA’s commissioner, said in a prepared statement. “Our enhanced food safety partnership with our Mexican colleagues will play an important role in helping each country’s respective efforts to create a modernized food safety regulatory framework.”
The two countries have worked collaboratively in the past: In 2018, the countries signed a partnership focused on produce safety, a collaboration that addressed the evolving nature of the production and distribution practices facing both the U.S. and Mexico.
This new effort will bring more transparency to food trading across the border, covering all foods. As part of the agreement, both participants will seek to gain better understanding of each other’s food safety system, allowing them to identify additional areas of mutual interest for future collaboration.
“The food industry continues to globalize, which necessitates the international harmonization of data collection practices, training, and food safety response efforts in order to better protect the public’s health as well as mitigate economic risks,” Burke says. “Ensuring that government regulatory norms and processes work in concert rather than in silos will help overall response to food pathogen risks, especially in fresh foods.”