U.S., New Zealand have “comparable” food safety structures

For the first time, the U.S. government has recognized another nation’s food safety system as comparable to its own.

On Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and New Zealand’s Ministry for Primary Industries signed an agreement, acknowledging that the two nations had comparable food safety systems. The agreement was the result of series of reviews of New Zealand’s regulatory system and testing of the pilot International Comparability Assessment Tool (ICAT).  ICAT includes a series of relevant law and regulation reviews, data on foodborne illness outbreaks and response, inspection programs, and enforcement and compliance, according to the FDA.

Officials hope the recognition will facilitate trade while also improving food safety, according to the statement.

It also will help avoid the “duplication of efforts,” wrote Michael R. Taylor, FDA deputy commissioner for foods, and Deborah Autor, FDA deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy, in a blog post.

“This means the comparable nations can concentrate more resources, including inspections, on foods that present a greater risk, providing for improved food safety overall,” Taylor and Autor wrote.

For more information, visit FDA’s website here.

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