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US States and Mexico form partnership to strengthen produce safe

FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg
FDA Commissioner Margaret A. HamburgPhoto by Win McNamee/Getty Images

The FDA and Mexico’s National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) a have joined with the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) in forming a partnership to “ to promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed agricultural products,” according to the Food and Drug Administration’s Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. Hamburg had traveled to Mexico on Monday to confer with her counterpart with their Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development, Fisheries and Food.

"This collaboration is a priority for public health," said the Federal Commissioner of COFEPRIS, Mikel Arriola Peñalosa. "The partnership will focus on implementing preventive practices and food verification measures that meet the guidelines and best international practices for produce safety." Among the main concerns for COFEPRIS is to “monitor safety during the process, use, maintenance, importation, exportation and disposal of medical devices, prosthetics, diagnostic agents, use dental supplies, surgical supplies, healing and hygiene products, and facilities where these products are processed.”

"For the Mexican Federal Government, health and safety are strategic tools to increase the competitiveness of the agricultural products produced in Mexico," added SENASICA’s chief director Enrique Sanchez Cruz. SENASICA’s primary focus is on protecting the health of livestock and plants and regulating and promoting “the implementation and certification of Systems of Contamination Risk Reduction for foods and food quality to facilitate domestic and international trade of healthy and safe products from plant and animal origins.”

Actions to be implemented by the new partnership will focus on preventive practices and verification measures for the production of safe produce, including: exchanging information to better understand each other’s produce safety systems; developing effective culturally-specific education and outreach materials that support industry compliance with produce safety standards; identifying common approaches for training auditors who will verify compliance with such standards; and enhancing collaboration on laboratory activities as well as outbreak response and traceback activities.

Mexico is the leading exporter of FDA-regulated human foods into the United States including $4.6 billion worth or fresh vegetables, $3.1 billion in fresh fruit (not including bananas, $1.5 billion in chocolate and snack foods, and $1.9 billion worth of beer and wine.