Yesterday the FDA, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Department of Health Canada signed an agreement that recognizes their food safety systems as comparable. Signed at an FDA-CFIA Health Canada Joint Committee on Food Safety meeting, the agreement will allow the agencies to leverage their regulatory systems and partner on various activities such as oversight when prioritizing inspections, scientific collaboration, and outbreak response.
“This arrangement is part of the US-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council in which the countries intend to better align their food safety regulatory systems, reduce unnecessary duplication, enhance information sharing, and to the extent possible, leverage resources so that the agencies can better meet their public health objectives,” said Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at FDA in a statement.
According to an FDA release: “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. Domestic systems provide the baseline level of public health protection that helps assure the safety of exported foods from that country. 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.”
The agencies used the International Comparability Assessment Tool to conduct a systems recognition review and assessment involving elements of Canada’s national food safety control system. This included examining laws and regulations, inspection programs, response to outbreaks, and other compliance, enforcement and lab support activities.
Text of the agreement between the agencies is available on FDA’s website.