By: Camille Brewer, M.S., R.D., Donald Prater, D.V.M., and Leigh Verbois, Ph.D.
These are exciting times for global food safety. In the last few years, China, Europe and the United States – three countries and regions of the world with complex food systems – have begun adopting sweeping modernization of their food safety laws and regulations. This is significant given these three countries together provide nearly half of the world’s foods!
China, Europe and the United States have a long history of partnering to help make sure that the food traded between us meets the robust food safety standards our consumers expect.
For many years, we’ve held regular meetings under our agreements with one another to talk through important issues affecting the safe production of both domestically consumed and internationally traded food.
We’ve also worked together for decades in venues like the Codex Alimentarius Commission to set global standards for food safety. Up until now, discussions between us have largely happened with only two of our three governments in the room.
On November 2, our three countries and regions met in Beijing to take this cooperation to the next level within our more globalized food safety system. We discussed ways the three of us will work together as a group to improve the safety of the food products our countries manufacture and trade.
Our countries recognize that by gaining deeper knowledge about each other’s food safety systems and sharing timely information for better regulatory decisions and actions, we can move closer to the reality of global regulatory cooperation and alignment. We can also increase our confidence in the food we feed our families, whether it is produced in the United States, the European Union or China.
In the United States, the FDA recently rolled out the first two final rules to implement the landmark FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) of 2011, and will release additional final rules this month.
In 2015, China updated its China Food Safety Law of 2009 to better clarify regulatory responsibility, increase penalties for the adulteration of food making it unsafe to eat, emphasize industry accountability, and improve traceability of food supply chains. In 2014, the European Union rolled out Smarter Rules for Safer Food, regulations that streamline the legal framework for food safety.
With China, the EU and the United States in agreement on our food safety collaboration, we will begin taking action! A first step is setting a meaningful agenda for a meeting before the summer of 2016.
We will be engaging food safety experts and focusing on closer cooperation through technical and scientific exchanges or workshops. These workshops will bring together experts to discuss food safety challenges.
Among the many topics to consider are our respective new food safety laws and regulations, approaches to preventing food safety hazards during manufacturing, and the importance of recordkeeping.
Through collaboration with our Chinese and European colleagues, the FDA will develop a better understanding of our various approaches to keeping food safe.
This type of common understanding is essential in our increasingly globalized world since food safety knows no borders.
Camille Brewer, M.S., R.D., is Director of International Affairs at FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine.
Donald Prater, D.V.M., is Director of the Europe Office in the FDA’s Office of International Programs
Leigh Verbois, Ph.D., is the Director of the China Office in FDA’s Office of International Programs