Excerpt from American Shipper | By; Chris Gillis | Monday, July 28, 2014
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and its Mexican counterparts, the National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS), signed a statement of intent to promote the safety of fresh and “minimally” processed agricultural products.
“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,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg in a statement.
The United States and Mexico already collaborate on a range of partnerships and have established formal arrangements to improve information sharing on emerging food safety issues, and work more collaboratively when addressing product safety that may impact American and Mexican consumers.
“The partnership will focus on implementing preventive practices and food verification measures that meet the guidelines and best international practices for produce safety,” said COFEPRIS Commissioner Mikel Arriola Penalosa.
Mexico is the leading exporter of FDA-regulated human foods into the United States. Leading categories include fresh vegetables ($4.6 billion), fresh fruit excluding bananas ($3.1 billion), wine and beer ($1.9 billion), and snack foods such as chocolate ($1.5 billion).
The new produce safety partnership will embrace various practices and verification measures, which include:
- 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
- Enhancing collaboration on laboratory activities as well as outbreak response and trace-back activities