September 14, 2023
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and its regulatory counterparts in Mexico reported continued progress in strengthening food safety at the third annual executive meeting of the Food Safety Partnership (FSP). The partnership includes the FDA, Mexico’s National Service of Agro-Alimentary Public Health Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS). Leadership from the three agencies participated in the meetings. Roughly one third of all FDA-regulated human food imported into the U.S. is from Mexico, including 60% of our fresh produce imports.
The September 13 FSP annual meeting focused on laboratory collaboration, food safety training and outreach to industry, as well as outbreak prevention and response. Among the accomplishments cited were progress to validate a new methodology capable of detecting the presence of the microscopic parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis; expanded use of Whole Genome Sequencing technology; and visits by SENASICA and COFEPRIS to a total of 60 onion farms and packinghouses, in response to last year’s onion outbreak, to learn detailed information on the industry’s production practices and address any food safety knowledge gaps.
A day before the FSP annual meeting, the three regulatory agencies hosted a day-long meeting with industry focused on two FDA regulations – the Food Traceability Rule and the proposed Agricultural Water Rule, which the agency expects to finalize in early 2024. As the FDA moves toward the compliance date for the Food Traceability Rule on January 20, 2026, the FDA supports Mexican farmers, producers, and manufacturers in understanding the full scope of the rule through collaborative industry outreach and education.
During this year’s meeting, FDA officials called for continued collaboration with industry to ensure a safe food supply for all consumers. For example, all three agencies collaborated in providing training on the FDA’s Produce Safety Rule to over 500 growers, two separate food safety workshops reaching 100 onion producers, as well as a Produce Safety Summit for 200 producers and conducting an On Farm Readiness Review for over 25 growers.
Next steps in the FSP include continued discussions to better understand Mexico’s food safety supply chain controls, continued outreach and training for producers, and collaboration for Hepatitis A testing, especially in the event of a possible outbreak. The agencies will also be discussing a process to guide rapid communication and reciprocal information exchange when adverse weather events occur that may have an impact on food safety. Such information exchange would allow both countries to consider prevention measures to reduce food safety risks and better protect consumers on both sides of the border.