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US Health Chief Urges China to Improve Food and Drug Safety

by VR Sreeraman on August 1, 2007 at 7:28 PM
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US Health Chief Urges China to Improve Food and Drug Safety

US health chief Mike Leavitt urged China Tuesday to improve the safety of its food and drugs, amid a series of international health scandals involving Chinese exports.

"Our US regulatory agencies are concerned about what they see as an insufficient infrastructure across the board in China to assure the safety, quality and effectiveness of many products exported to the United States," Leavitt said.

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He made the remarks as US health officials were in Beijing as part of a series of bilateral meetings aimed at hammering out two agreements on food and drug safety by the end of the year.

"We believe that with the technology, the scientific expertise, and the commitment each side has, we can work together to correct the outstanding issues," Leavitt said.
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"I am hopeful that we can achieve two strong, action-oriented documents by December."

Seafood exports will top this week's meeting that ends August 4 after Washington announced this month it would slap broad controls on Beijing's seafood imports over unsafe chemical residues on farm-raised fish.

The image of China's exports has been severely tarnished in recent months by regular reports of shoddy or dangerous goods.

Reports in the United States of tainted pet foods, dangerous toys, drugs and cosmetics and other products from China have led to a spate of recalls and bans there.

This month a US congressional panel condemned US import inspections systems after finding that only one percent of all food imports are inspected.

The committee also found US authorities had known for years that seafood imports from Asia were arriving in packages treated with carbon monoxide gas to make them look fresher than they really are.

Source: AFP
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