The FDA and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries have signed an agreement recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other, according to an FDA news release. This is the first time that the FDA has recognized another country’s food safety system as comparable to its own.
According to the memorandum of understanding, the systems recognition decision facilitates trade between the two countries by reducing the type and frequency of border checks and level and type of verification activities expected by the importers and exporters of food products from either country.
Systems recognition involves reviewing a country’s food safety system to determine whether it provides a similar set of protections as the FDA’s. The FDA’s system recognition approach was pilot tested with New Zealand using the draft International Comparability Assessment Tool. The FDA’s comparability approach was the subject of a September 2012 Government Accountability Office report.
The FDA is currently pilot testing a systems recognition process with Canada. Congresswoman Rosa DeLaura (D-Ct.), meanwhile, expressed concern that two pending agreements with Canada, the Regulatory Cooperation Council and Beyond the Border initiatives, could weaken American Food Safety standards. She cited a September beef recall in Canada that she called “the largest beef recall in history.”
The agreement between the United States and New Zealand is available on the FDA’s website.