Senior Chinese food safety officials completed a two-week food safety study exchange program in New Zealand yesterday–the latest example of an increased effort within the international community to improve cooperation in regulating the global food system.

According to the New Zealand Food Safety Authority (NZFSA), the recent visit covered more specific policy issues than previous delegations. “This was the first comprehensive food safety study program looking at the complete system with the Chinese delegation quick to trumpet its success,” said NZFSA in a statement.

New Zealand hosted 12 Chinese central government officials. The group participated in technical workshops and briefings on New Zealand’s regulatory system, and visited seafood, meat and dairy facilities as well as farms.

NZFSA’s senior deputy director, Bill Jolly, views the recent visit as a prime example of the food regulatory cooperation that exists between China and New Zealand, especially since their 2008 free trade agreement.

According to Jolly, the Chinese delegation was eager to learn about New Zealand’s science and risk-based regulatory approach. “They have shown an in-depth base knowledge which indicates the level of commitment China is putting into food safety,” said Jolly. “They have also posed searching questions in order to fully understand how we manage risks in our food supply and they will share their insights with central government in China.”

Next year, public health officials from New Zealand will visit Beijing to conduct seminars on the country’s experiences with World Trade Organization (WTO) concepts like regionalization and equivalence.