Courtesy FDAOfficials from the U.S. and Mexico who signed the food safety statement included (from left) Mike Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner, Enrique Sánchez Cruz, executive director of SENASICA, Margaret Hamburg, FDA commissioner, and Mikel Arriola Peñalosa, commissioner of COFEPRIS.(UPDATED COVERAGE July 28) It’s only two pages, but a document signed by U.S. and Mexican officials is being called a milestone in the pursuit of cooperative food safety efforts, especially for preventive practices and verification requirements for fresh produce.
“We know that food safety is more a journey than a destination, but there are times when we can point to a major milestone along the road. Today, we reached such a milestone in our long-standing relationship with Mexico by signing a statement of intent to establish a new produce safety partnership,” Mike Taylor, deputy director of the Food and Drug Administration, wrote in his blog on July 24.
Taylor and FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg met with their regulatory counterparts from the National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) before signing the document.
“This collaboration is a priority for public health,” said federal commissioner of COFEPRIS Mikel Arriola Peñalosa in a news release. “The partnership will focus on implementing preventive practices and food verification measures that meet the guidelines and best international practices for produce safety.”
The statement of intent calls for:
- Exchanging information to better understand each other’s produce safety systems;
- Developing effective culturally-specific education materials;
- Identifying common approaches for training auditors; and
- Enhancing collaboration on laboratory activities and outbreak response/traceback activities.
“With over a hundred years of produce exports to the U.S., Mexico is well entrenched into the U.S. food supply,” Jungmeyer said July 25.
“This agreement gives credence to the excellent work that the Mexican government and growers are putting into food safety advancements. It adds more trust to the relationship and is a sign that FDA likes what it is seeing out of Mexico.”
Officials at fresh produce industry groups also expressed support.
“We’re pleased to see the FDA announcement about cooperation with Mexico’s authorities on food safety,” said Ray Gilmer, vice president of issues management for the United Fresh Produce Association.