The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have signed an agreement that will see the two organisations co-operate in the area of food safety science.

The deal is the first such agreement between Europe and the US, and the first formal international co-operation agreement of any kind signed by the EFSA. In a statement, EFSA described the agreement as “the first formal step in cooperation between the two bodies”.

The agreement aims to facilitate the sharing of confidential scientific and other information, such as methodologies to ensure food safety.

Informal co-operation and dialogue had already been established between the two bodies, but EFSA said this agreement would enable these arrangements to be formalised and extended.

“Food safety knows no national boundaries and the food chain is today truly a global one,” said Catherine Geslain-Lanéelle, EFSA’s executive director. “We need to work with the best scientific minds from across the world and extend scientific co-operation to assess food safety risks and protect consumers even more. Sharing data and knowledge across our two organisations is an important first step in achieving this goal.”

Andrew C. von Eschenbach, the FDA’s commissioner on food and drugs, said: “As a science-based and science-led agency, FDA recognises that scientific co-operation is vital for the success of its mission, which is to provide the best possible health protection for the public. I welcome this opportunity for scientific exchanges with our European colleagues, exchanges that will be focused on ensuring the safety and wholesomeness of food, a major area of responsibility of our agency.”