In late 2002, health professionals from the ministries of health and academia of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority and Israel formed the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease Surveillance (MECIDS) to facilitate trans-border cooperation in response to infectious disease outbreaks. The first mission of MECIDS was to establish a regional, laboratory-based surveillance network on foodborne diseases. The development of harmonized methodologies and laboratory capacities, the establishment of a common platform of communication, data sharing and analysis and coordination of intervention steps when needed were agreed upon. Each of the three parties selected the microbiological laboratories that would form the network of sentinel laboratories and cover the different districts of each country and also designated one laboratory as the National Reference Laboratory (NRL). Data analysis units have been established to manage the data and serve as a central point of contact in each country. The MECIDS also selected a regional data analysis unit, the Cooperative Monitoring Centre (CMC) located in Amman, Jordan, and established a mechanism for sharing data from the national systems. Joint training courses were held on interventional epidemiology and laboratory technologies. Data collection started in July 2005 with surveillance of salmonellosis as the first target. This network of collaboration and communication established in an area of continuous dispute represents an important step towards assessing the burden of foodborne diseases in the region and is expected to be fundamental for coordination of public health interventions and prevention strategies.