Foodborne illness outbreaks are largely preventable, but when one occurs it can have devastating consequences for consumers. As part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) commitment to keep Americans safe, we are using the domestic mutual reliance initiative, which enables us to strengthen our relationship with our regulatory partners and improve industry compliance to reduce foodborne illness outbreaks.

Recently, the state of Florida signed a domestic mutual reliance agreement, making them the fourth state to sign an agreement, joining California, Utah, and Wisconsin. What does this mean for efforts to reduce foodborne illness outbreaks? The domestic mutual reliance agreements will support the FDA and states in relying on and leveraging one another’s work and data and coordinating activities and regulatory actions to achieve a safer national food supply.

We know that a strong, integrated system is essential to a safe food supply. For example, the FDA’s Rapid Response Team program exemplifies domestic mutual reliance in action during human and animal food emergencies. Effective federal-state communication channels enabled Giant Eagle, Inc., Hy-Vee, Inc., and the Kroger Co. to work with the FDA to quickly issue a voluntary recall of Chicken Street Taco Kits supplied by Reser’s Fine Food, due to the possibility the product may have contained an undeclared egg allergen. This collaborative effort ultimately protects the public from consuming unsafe food. 

Domestic mutual reliance is one way the FDA is working to address our nation’s increasingly complex food production and distribution systems. We expect that as more states continue to sign domestic mutual reliance agreements, it will reduce redundancy and duplication of effort at the state and federal level. This will allow both the FDA and state partners to reallocate resources to areas of higher risk, ultimately improving public health.

The domestic mutual reliance framework provides opportunities for the FDA and partners to identify needs to better protect the public and leverage work from other regulatory programs. It also will offer support to build quality management systems and infrastructures to promote national regulatory program standards, while also leveraging training, outreach, and information exchange. This is truly an important step forward towards achieving a seamless, integrated food safety system between domestic, federal, and state regulators.

Related: FDA and States use Rapid Response Teams Approach to Combat Foodborne Illness through Domestic Mutual Reliance