WASHINGTON – On April 27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (U.S.D.A.) Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) announced the a procedural agreement with Mexico's National Service of Health, Food Safety, and Agro-Alimentary Quality (S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A.) was signed. The "Terms of Reference" is a documented procedure for the way in which F.S.I.S. engages with its Mexico counterpart, S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A.

The document has been a collaborative effort between the U.S. and Mexican governments, and represents a new level of interaction and cooperation between F.S.I.S. and S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A., according to the agency.

"F.S.I.S. has been working diligently with S.E.N.A.S.I.CA. on this agreement to improve how we work together," said Al Almanza, F.S.I.S. administrator. "Through the cooperation of S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A., we can jointly continue to enhance our efforts in ensuring food safety and protecting public health."

Senior representatives from S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A. came to Washington, D.C. to sign the document, "Terms of Reference for the Operational Relationship of the Mexican National Service of Health, Food Safety, and Agro-Alimentary Quality and the United States Food Safety and Inspection Service in the Trade in Meat, Poultry and Egg Products Between the United Mexican States and The United States of America" with F.S.I.S. officials.

The document focuses on matters of equivalence, audit procedures, the listing and delisting of eligible establishments for export to the two respective countries and establishing more effective means of communication in areas of public health. Mr. Almanza and Enrique Sanchez-Cruz, S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A. director in chief, signed the agreement on behalf of their respective governments.

The agreement was intended to provide an opportunity for improving established procedures. F.S.I.S. and S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A. worked together after S.E.N.A.S.I.C.A.'s request to F.S.I.S. for written standard procedures by which the agencies interact on matters of food safety and public health.

To view the full written procedural agreement go to the FSIS Web site at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/