FDA signed an arrangement with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) and the Department of Health Canada (Health Canada) recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other—marking the second time FDA has recognized a foreign food safety system as comparable, the first being New Zealand in 2012. A similar system recognition process is underway between FDA and Australia and the European Commission.
Systems Recognition will establish a framework for regulatory cooperation in a variety of areas that range from scientific collaboration to outbreak response. 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. FDA says systems recognition will help it 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 FDA, working with the CFIA and Health Canada, conducted a systems recognition review and assessment using the International Comparability Assessment Tool (ICAT). The process includes a comprehensive review of key elements of the country’s national food safety control system such as its relevant laws and regulations, inspection programs, response to food-related illness and outbreaks, compliance and enforcement and laboratory support.