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FDA names New Zealand as first country on par with US standards

By RJ Whitehead , 14-Dec-2012

This week, New Zealand has become the first country in the world to sign an agreement with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The pact recognises each other’s food safety systems as providing a comparable degree of food-safety assurance.

The Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement was signed at a meeting in Washington DC by delegations from the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and the FDA.

“The is momentous for MPI as it is the first time the FDA has recognised another country’s food safety system as comparable as its own,” said MPI deputy director general for standards, Carol Barnao.

Strengthening safety

In reply, FDA’s deputy commissioner for food, Michael R. Taylor, said: “The arrangement for New Zealand is part of an overall strategy for strengthening the global food safety net through closer collaboration with regulators around the world, highlighted in the FDA’s report Pathway to Global Product Safety and Quality.”

Barnao said that both countries had done a great deal of work ahead of the agreement: “This process has included a comprehensive review of each country’s relevant laws and regulations, inspection programmes, response to food-related illness and outbreaks, compliance and enforcement, and laboratory support.”

Over the course of a year, both teams of officials spent an intensive period of time together, including visiting production plants, cold store facilities, verifiers and accreditation authorities. Together, they looked at the effectiveness of how each other’s preventative controls and verification systems worked.

Removing burdens

Both countries intend to use the agreement to lessen the potential regulatory burden for foods traded between the two by removing unnecessary duplication of activities.

Systems recognition agreements are very important for MPI to help us achieve on of our key strategic goals of maximising export opportunities through other countries’ recognition of the credibility of our food safety controls,” Barnao explained.

Editor's note: Do you expect this agreement help your food business? Let us know in the comments below.