The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Mexico’s National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS) signed a statement of intent last week forming a partnership to promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed agricultural products. Each country’s agencies will work together to identify practices to prevent contamination during the growing, harvesting, packing, holding and transportation of fresh fruits and vegetables and verification measures to ensure these preventive practices are working. The two-page document focuses on 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. FDA’s Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine, Michael Taylor, called the statement of intent a “milestone” in the U.S.-Mexico relationship. And Federal Commissioner of COFEPRIS, Mikel Arriola Peñalosa, said the collaboration is “a priority for public health.” On July 21, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Taylor, and other FDA officials traveled to Mexico for meetings with their Mexican regulatory counterparts. In her blog about the visit, Hamburg said the statement of intent is “just the latest example of the successful collaboration to reduce the increased risk of foodborne illnesses that naturally comes with a more globalized market.” “Mexico is one of the United States’ top trading partners, and much of the produce we eat is grown there, including produce that otherwise would be hard to find during the winter,” Taylor wrote. Nearly one-third of the FDA-regulated food products Americans eat come from Mexico, but the agency says the partnership will make produce safer for consumers on both sides of the border. “FDA has a long-standing relationship with Mexico on food safety, and modernization efforts underway on both sides of the border provide an opportunity to make this partnership even stronger,” Taylor said. “Food safety partnerships must extend well beyond government, so we are engaging the private sector as well because their food safety practices, coupled with government standards, are what make food safe.” While FDA works to implement the Food Safety Modernization Act in the U.S., Mexico is implementing an amendment to its own food safety laws that mandates standards for fresh produce, inspections, and surveillance and verification programs.