During a virtual ceremony on Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and 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) – enhanced a partnership to work together on food safety in both countries. This Statement of Intent broadens and strengthens the scope of their existing partnership to include the safety of all human food regulated by the FDA. Additionally, this latest partnership embraces the use of new and emerging technologies, leverages food safety programs at SENASICA and COFEPRIS and their work with local industry, and further enhances the collaborations of U.S. and Mexico with other key partners.
"U.S. consumers rely on imports from Mexico for much of the fresh fruit and vegetables that they eat as well as other foods. 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," said FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn, M.D. "By strengthening our ongoing collaboration with Mexico’s food safety regulatory authorities, we can bolster our important work protecting public health in both countries and prevent foodborne diseases by using modern technology, preventive practices based on technical and scientific evidence, as well as actions of health surveillance and verification measures."
Historically, the FDA and its regulatory counterparts in Mexico have worked collaboratively due to the high volume of food trade across the border. In 2014, they signed a partnership focused on produce safety. About one-third of all imported food into the U.S. is from Mexico and 60% of all imported produce is from Mexico. As a result, the FDA, SENASICA, and COFEPRIS work closely together on food establishment inspections and responding to foodborne illness outbreaks, as well as developing and implementing plans to enhance food safety in other areas of mutual public health interest.
"The New Era of Smarter Food Safety Blueprint outlines the approach the FDA will take over the next decade to encourage more effective and modern food safety processes,” said Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response. “Through this new partnership, the FDA, SENASICA, and COFEPRIS will enhance our level of collaboration to strengthen food safety and leverage new approaches that further protect consumers in both the U.S. and Mexico.”
The three agencies have initially structured their food safety partnership to focus on areas of mutual interest related to human food safety, such as: prevention (e.g., Salmonella in papaya and Cyclospora in other produce), outbreak response, regulatory laboratory collaboration (e.g., Whole Genome Sequencing of foodborne bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens), and outreach/training opportunities for industry (e.g., Produce Safety and Preventive Controls for Human Foods). Through this new partnership, the FDA, SENASICA, and COFEPRIS will further strengthen their close collaboration by including all human foods under the FDA’s jurisdiction that is traded between the two countries, in addition to their ongoing work on fresh produce. This modern approach to food safety utilizes all available tools and technologies to help ensure a strong and resilient food system.