New Zealand and United States negotiators have cut away some of the red tape tangling up $1.5 billion of food exports.
The US Food and Drug Administration and New Zealand have agreed to recognise that each others' systems provide a comparable degree of food safety assurance.
New Zealand is the first country in the world to sign such an agreement with the the US.
The Food Safety Systems Recognition Arrangement was signed at a meeting in Washington by delegations from the Primary Industries Ministry and FDA.
MPI deputy director of general standards Carol Barnao described the agreement as “momentous".
Each country intended to use the agreement to lessen the potential regulatory burden for foods traded between them by removing unnecessary duplication.
“Systems recognition agreements are very important for MPI to help us achieve one of our key strategic goals of maximising export opportunities through other countries’ recognition of the credibility of our food safety controls,” she said.
Both countries had done a huge amount of work ahead of the signing.
“This process has included a comprehensive review of each country’s relevant laws and regulations, inspection programmes, response to food-related illness and outbreaks, compliance and enforcement, and laboratory support."
“In one calendar year FDA and New Zealand officials spent an intensive period of time together including visiting production plants, cold store facilities, verifiers and accreditation authorities looking at the effectiveness of how each other’s preventative controls and verification systems worked.”