Food safety officials from both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have agreed to work together to promote the safety of fresh and minimally processed agricultural products.

A statement of intent to form a partnership was signed last week by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the government of Mexico's National Service for Agro-Alimentary Public Health, Safety and Quality (SENASICA) and Federal Commission for the Protection from Sanitary Risks (COFEPRIS).

The produce safety partnership will focus on preventive practices and verification measures for the production and supply of safe produce. Information will be exchanged between the United States and Mexico to help the two countries better understand each other's produce safety systems. The partnership also includes enhanced collaboration on laboratory work, outbreak response and traceback activities.

FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., said that the agency is working with stakeholders from industry, commerce, agriculture and academia as well as its Mexican government counterparts in order to ensure the safety of products for American and Mexican consumers.

Partnerships like this allow regulators to more comprehensively and collectively respond to the challenges associated with globalization, Hamburg pointed out.

Mexico exports significant quantities of food products to the United States, including fresh vegetables ($4.6 billion); fresh fruit excluding bananas ($3.1 billion); wine and beer ($1.9 billion); and snack foods, including chocolate ($1.5 billion).