November 20, 2008

US food safety offices in China seen to have little impact


The US Food and Drug Administration has opened three offices in China to boost the Asian country's food safety but experts feel that it will have little impact on Chinese food supply chain.


The FDA can never find all the potential poisons in exported Chinese food products, said Jiang Weibo, a professor at China Agriculture University.


"There are dozens of pesticides used. Each product might have more than a thousand different poisonous possibilities," Jiang said.


Jiang also said the Chinese government will never authorise the FDA to supervise and test products in China's domestic market.


However, China's Health Minister Chen Zhu, said each country would station food and drug officials in the other country "on an equal basis".


"While we acknowledge we cannot inspect everything, we believe very strongly that we can, through independent certification, assure that someone we trust is overseeing products that come into the United States," Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said.


The aim of setting up the offices is to work more closely with Chinese regulatory agencies to set quality standards and to educate companies and their distributors.


FDA Commissioner Andrew Eschenbach said they will be looking for them to take corporate responsibility for assuring quality is built in, and intelligence, inspection data and information would be shared.

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