Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a new partnership with the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. Both parties now recognize each other’s food safety systems as “comparable”. By recognizing each other’s systems, the FDA and Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources have confidence that they can leverage each other’s science-based regulatory systems to help ensure food safety.
This means that each party will consider the oversight of the other when prioritizing inspection activities. There will also be the implementation of systems recognition to help the countries collaborate on outbreak responses.
In recent years, FDA has also determined that food safety systems in New Zealand and Canada are also comparable to those in the U.S. According to FDA, “Systems recognition involves reviewing a foreign country’s domestic food safety regulatory system to determine if it has a food safety system that provides a similar system of food safety protection to that provided by the FDA. Domestic systems provide the baseline level of public health protection that helps assure the safety of exported foods from that country. Systems recognition also helps the FDA focus more on potential risks when planning the scope and frequency of its inspection activities, including foreign facility inspections, import field exams, and import sampling.”
FDA also says that systems recognition is voluntary and not required in order for a country to export foods to the U.S. The FDA continues to have inspection authority over food imported from any country with which it has an arrangement and can exercise this authority as needed. Imports from Australia must continue to comply with U.S. statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure safety and proper labeling, including the new standards adopted under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.