The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources announced last week they recognised the commonalities of both food safety systems.
The move means that they can “leverage” the science-based regulatory systems in both countries to help ensure food safety.
The US has also recognized New Zealand and Canada as having comparable food safety systems — New Zealand in 2012 and Canada in 2016. The US and Mexican officials are said to be working on a similar agreement.
The agreement with Australia is not set to include feed or ingredients intended for feed at this time, but that remains a possibility, an FDA spokesperson told FeedNavigator.
“Animal feed is not covered under the current systems recognition arrangements,” the spokesperson said. “FDA may consider options for covering it in the future.”
It is unclear, at this point, why feed products were not included in the agreement. However, initial work to establish the program did consider practices for imported and feed of multiple governments, said the FDA.
The arrangement with New Zealand did account for the inclusion of animal feed, said the FDA, while that with Canada did not.
The comparability process involves a prioritization in inspection activities for some products coming from the respective country, said the US agency. It sets a framework for regulatory cooperation for several areas including scientific collaboration and outbreak response.
The FDA reviewed Australia’s domestic food safety regulation to establish if the system offers a similar system of protection to what is provided by the FDA. Those practices set the baseline of public health protection and assurance of safety for exported foods, it said.
“Australia meets the criteria for systems recognition as it has, over time, demonstrated that it takes a proactive, preventive approach to food safety management and works to minimize adverse events when they occur,” said the FDA. “Once systems recognition is implemented through a mutual agreement, both the US FDA and the government of Australia will be able to more appropriately target inspectional resources to higher risk country-commodity combinations and leverage resources to address common food safety concerns.”