The Food and Drug Administration signed an arrangement May 4 with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Health Canada recognizing each other’s food safety control measures and systems as comparable. The FDA states that this is the second time it has extended such recognition – the first being New Zealand in 2012 – and that a similar process is underway with Australia and the European Union.

According to the FDA, systems recognition involves reviewing a foreign country’s domestic food safety regulatory system to determine if it has legal authorities and regulatory tools that together provide public health outcomes comparable to those provided by the FDA. Systems recognition will help the FDA be more risk-based in planning the scope and frequency of its inspection activities, including foreign facility inspections, import field exams and import sampling. It also establishes a framework for regulatory cooperation in a variety of areas. However, the FDA notes that systems recognition is voluntary and not required for a country to export foods to the U.S.

Under this arrangement the FDA, CFIA and Health Canada intend to do the following.

- continue to cooperate on food safety and facilitate regular communications regarding their food safety systems

- promote the management of food safety risks prior to export

- consult and collaborate on the development of changes to their food safety policies and regulatory approaches as they impact the standards assessed under this arrangement to optimize the prospects for continued comparability

- encourage early discussion of respective policy approaches when faced with similar food safety issues and challenges

- work cooperatively to ensure prompt notification of food safety concerns regarding food traded between the two countries and, possibly, food originating from a third country that may have been shipped to either of the two countries

- work cooperatively when investigating a food safety concern associated with food traded between the two countries to facilitate appropriate risk management interventions

- collaborate on foreign inspections and foreign audits and, as mutually determined, share results

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