China Turning Tables on the US on Food Import

by Medindia Content Team on  June 10, 2007 at 11:08 AM Diet & Nutrition News
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China Turning Tables on the US on Food Import
The Chinese government goes offensive on food import from the US. The latest health supplement and raisins import from the US were returned or destroyed, as it did not meet the Chinese safety standards. Earlier Chinese products were rejected by the US on grounds of it being tainted and dangerous.

The food inspectors at the port of Ningbo and Shenzhen found bacteria and sulfur dioxide in products shipped by three American companies. The companies are K-Max Health Products Co. of Industry, Calif., CMO Distribution Centers of America, Inc., and Supervalu International Division. K-Max and CMO exported health capsules, including bee pollen and bacteria-fighting supplements. Supervalu exported Sun-Maid Golden Raisins. Sulfur-dioxide is used as preservatives in dried fruits.

Friday's announcement is the second such incident in recent days. Few days earlier the Chinese authority had seized five containers of Evian water on concern of high bacteria level, according to France's Groupe Danone SA.

In Washington, a top U.S. food safety official said the Food and Drug Administration was seeking more information from its Chinese counterparts, including whether they are "bona fide, science-based findings" or in retaliation for U.S. actions.

The FDA's assistant commissioner for food protection, Dr. David Acheson, said U.S. officials were seeking more information." Whatever the motives are for this, if it's real, we want to know about it," Acheson said.

"Is it tit-for-tat? We don't know and probably won't ever know. If they found a legitimate problem with a product exported from the United States, we would want to know about it so we can look into it and fix it."

"Depending on what the FDA learns, it could follow up with inspections of the companies and its own sampling and testing," Acheson said. "Previously, the agency hasn't known of any problems with the companies' products flagged by the Chinese," he added.

Based on the reports the Supervalu Company issued a statement. Supervalu spokeswoman Rebekah Fawcett said its international division "works closely with our vendors and our manufacturers to ensure that the products we import and export adhere to quality standards and safety specifications." Supervalu International is part of Supervalu Inc., headquartered in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Many of them are giving this news a political overtone. Neil Langerman, an officer of the division of chemical health and safety of the American Chemical Society, questioned whether China's seizure was in retaliation for recent U.S. actions against Chinese products.

Marion Nestle, a nutrition professor at New York University, said she didn't know why sulfur dioxide would pose a problem, since it's often used to preserve raisins and other dried fruit. She said raisins would be an unlikely host to bacteria because they are dry.

In the past week, the Chinese inspections administration has promised to implement a recall system for bad products by the end of the year. Its officials have also called for stronger surveillance and export controls in an effort to improve China's international image and foreign relations.

Source: Medindia

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