On April 19, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it has signed an arrangement with the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) recognizing each other’s food safety systems as comparable to each other. This is the third time that the FDA has recognized a foreign food safety system as comparable, the first being New Zealand in 2012 and Canada in 2016.

The FDA announcement said that “each partner intends to consider the oversight of the other when prioritizing inspection activities, but the benefits go beyond inspection and admissibility. Systems recognition establishes a framework for regulatory cooperation in a variety of areas that range from scientific collaboration to outbreak response.”

The announcement noted that systems recognition is voluntary and not required in order for a country to export foods to the U.S. The FDA continues to have inspection authority over food imported from any country with which it has an arrangement and can exercise this authority as needed. Imports from Australia must continue to comply with U.S. statutory and regulatory requirements to ensure safety and proper labeling, including the new standards adopted under the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act.

The Australian DAWR’s release said that “not all foods are included in this agreement, but most canned foods, seafood, dairy products, fresh fruit and vegetables, fruit juices, confectionary and baked goods are in scope. Just as Australia does, the USA continues to regulate foods such as meat, egg products, shellfish and dietary supplements and more stringent requirements continue to apply.”