The U.S. and Mexico are working together to fight Salmonella—bringing unprecedented collaboration to the food safety wars
I know that a lot of folks get that eyes-glazed-over look when I or any federal official starts talking about "partnership." But you know what? It's important. It's an important part of the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act. And it's real.
Let me tell you about last week's "partnership," when the FDA and its two counterpart agencies in Mexico broke new ground in collaborating to reduce the risk of contamination of food moving across the U.S.-Mexican border.
Working with the CDC and state health and regulatory officials, FDA investigated an outbreak of more than 100 cases of Salmonella Agona in 23 U.S. states. Information from this investigation identified papayas from Mexico imported through a distributor, Agromod Produce, Inc. of McAllen, Texas, as a likely source of the Salmonella outbreak. On July, 23, 2011, the company instituted a voluntary recall.
Further, we began testing all fresh papayas coming into the U.S. from Mexico—a resource-intensive effort we believed was necessary to protect consumers. Between May 12 and August 18, 2011, we discovered that nearly one in six papaya shipments tested positive for Salmonella. The positive samples, which were refused entry into the U.S., were from 28 different firms and included nearly all the major papaya-producing regions in Mexico.