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US and Mexico align on produce safety

Officials from the US and Mexico are collaborating to foster safety of fresh and minimally processed food products.
Officials from the US and Mexico are collaborating to foster safety of fresh and minimally processed food products.

Food safety officials from the US and Mexico have announced plans to unite on increasing the safety of fresh and minimally processed foods.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is joining forces with Mexico’s National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) to promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed food products.

Safety collaboration

A group of FDA officials led by commissioner Margaret Hamburg travelled south of the border to meet with the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), the parent agency of SENASICA and the Ministry of Health (over COFEPRIS) to discuss the partnership. According to Hamburg, communication among international agencies is crucial to the food supply worldwide.

To be successful as regulators, the FDA must continue developing new strategies and partnerships that allow us to more comprehensively and collectively respond to the challenges that come with globalization,” she said. “The FDA is working with our Mexican government counterparts as well as stakeholders from industry, commerce, agriculture, and academia to ensure the safety of products for American and Mexican consumers.”

Federal commissioner of COFEPRIS Mikel Arriola Peñalosa said public health also is a high priority among Mexican officials.

“The partnership will focus on implementing preventive practices and food verification measures that meet the guidelines and best international practices for produce safety,” he said.

Food exports

Mexico is tops on the list of countries exporting FDA-regulated foods intended for human consumption into America. Each year, the country’s producers send $4.6bn worth of fresh vegetables, $3.1bn in fresh fruit, and other fresh and processed foods to the US.

Among the goals of the produce safety partnership: crafting preventive practices and verification measures for the production of safe produce. These include sharing data between the two countries in order to understand each other’s safety procedures, coming up with education and outreach materials, developing common approaches for training, working together on outbreak response and traceability, and collaborating with private-sector stakeholders.

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