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FDA Recognizes Canada’s Food Safety System as Comparable

May 11, 2016

The United States and Canada took another step forward in harmonizing their agriculture and food markets last week when the two countries officially recognized each other’s food safety systems as comparable.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 4 with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Department of Health of Canada in an effort to reduce duplication, contradictory responses and oversight delays in their regulatory practices. Moving forward, the agencies agreed to collaborate on any changes to each country’s food safety policies and regulatory approaches and to coordinate efforts in the event of a food safety concern.

Grade “A” milk and milk products, which are covered in the United States under the Pasteurized Milk Ordinance (PMO), are not included in the scope of the agreement. However, according to John Allan, IDFA vice president of regulatory affairs and international standards, “The U.S. and Canada have formally agreed during the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations that each would conduct an equivalency assessment on the other’s food safety system with respect to ‘milk and milk products’ as defined in the PMO, so this process is still pending.”

In the meantime, most cheese and ice cream products will benefit from increased continuity of food safety guidelines and regulations between the two countries.

According to Michael Taylor, deputy commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine for FDA, these efforts will help the agencies to better meet their public health objectives while aiding inspection efficiency, scientific collaboration and outbreak response.

For more details, members may login to read a memorandum, “FSMA Implementation Update: Canada Comparability Determination and FSMA Inspection Developments,” from Hogan Lovell US LLP, IDFA’s outside legal counsel.

 This arrangement marks only the second time that the United States has signed such a bilateral agreement, following the signing of an understanding with New Zealand in 2012. A similar system recognition process is underway between FDA and Australia and the European Commission.

For more information, contact Beth Hughes, IDFA director of international affairs, at

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