A stroll through the produce department at Publix and Winn-Dixie will reveal an assortment of fruits and vegetables from Mexico. The country is one of the United States’ largest trading partners, and the tropical goodies are a major commodity.
The good news for consumers who want to ensure their proverbial apple a day is as fresh as it can be is that the Food and Drug Administration has struck an accord with its neighbor to the south.
The United States, through its Food Safety Modernization Act, and Mexico, through the agencies COFEPRIS and SENASICA, have set up stricter standards for produce, including inspections and surveillance. COFEPRIS is the Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks, and SENASICA is the National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality.
“We know that food safety is more a journey than a destination, but there are times when we can point to a major milestone along the road,” wrote Michael Taylor, an FDA deputy commissioner, on the FDAVoice blog.
The milestone was reached during a signing ceremony in Mexico City attended by Taylor, the FDA’s Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Mikel Arriola Peñalosa, of COFEPRIS, and Enrique Sánchez Cruz, of SENASICA.
“The statement of intent is just a two-page document, but it represents a strategy that is far-reaching and designed to achieve high rates of compliance with produce standards in each country,” Taylor wrote.
Among the topics hammered out are ways to prevent contamination and verify safe practices. Education and outreach efforts are part of the accord, with the goal of building on the collaboration already taking place.
We are engaging industry, commerce, agriculture, academia and consumers because everyone has a role in ensuring the safety of the food supply,” Taylor wrote. “It is gratifying to see the progress we have made along the way – and even more gratifying to know that with the new produce safety partnership in place, fruits and vegetables will be safer for consumers on both sides of the border.”