China and New Zealand have agreed to strengthen cooperation in food safety and quality, three months after the Fonterra botulism scare negatively disrupted booming food links between the two countries.
According to a statement, the agreement will see a joint food safety commission established to enhance food safety regulatory cooperation. The agreement was signed in Wellington between New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries and the China Food and Drug Administration.
Nikki Kaye, the Kiwi minister for food safety, said that the Food Safety Cooperation Arrangement would be beneficial to both countries.
“It will encourage cooperation and the sharing of knowledge in the fields of food safety, risk management, food standards and regulations,” she said. “The agreement shows commitment and a willingness between New Zealand and China to work together on food safety programmes.”
“It will allow MPI and the CFDA to work together to enhance food safety, continually improve our regulatory regimes and enhance the bilateral relationship,” Kaye added.
According to Kaye, the commission will allow the MPI and the CFDA to meet on an annual basis to help build a better understanding of how each other’s respective food safety systems work.
“We can identify areas of shared interest and potential new areas of cooperation. It also allows us to formalise our joint interests and is an important step in the evolution of China and New Zealand cooperation in food safety,” she said.
The Fonterra botulism scare, which had contaminated whey protein concentrate supplied by the dairy giant at its centre, came a month after the Chinese government launched an investigation into baby formula price fixing by foreign dairy companies like Fonterra and Danone.
In its aftermath, small-scale Kiwi infant formula firms, whose exports to the Chinese market had soared in recent years, have been losing up to NZ$2m in weekly sales in China, said the NZ Infant Formula Exporters Association.