US Health Official Plans for Food, Drug Inspectors in China

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expects to have eight of its employees stationed in China by this October in order to better monitor food exports. The FDA announced this plan in March, and now the Associated Press reports that it is close to being approved by Chinese officials.

U.S. food and drug regulators will start working in China next month once Beijing gives its final approval, the top U.S. health official said Tuesday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said the Food and Drug Administration is planning to open an office in China as part of a change in strategy following product safety problems in Chinese imports that prompted several health scares and have been linked to some deaths.

“In the past, the United States and many other countries have employed a strategy of standing at the border trying to catch things that aren’t safe,” Leavitt said in an AP interview during a visit to Singapore.

However, he said it is impossible to inspect all of the massive amounts of goods that enter the country.

“So we’re changing our strategy from one of trying to catch unsafe products to building safety into the products,” Leavitt said. “Our purpose is not just inspection, it’s building capacity and maintaining relationships between regulators.”

See also the FDA’s original press release and the Washington Post’s slideshow of Mike Leavitt’s visit to Singapore.

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