China has requested that the U.S. lift its ban on Chinese-produced milk products, stating that the Chinese government has been successful on cracking down on melamine contamination:
“We feel deep regret that the US insists on unilaterally taking these steps,” [Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Qin Gang] told a regular news briefing.
“We hope the US can pay great attention to Chinese concerns, as these steps will have an effect on bilateral trade,” he added.
“We hope the US… can lift the ban as soon as possible.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has opened an office in Beijing – the first time an office has been opened outside of the U.S. This office is intended to ensure the product safety of China-made exports destined for U.S. markets, and will be staffed with FDA food experts and inspectors:
“In the past we have always been at our borders to try and catch things that were not safe or did not meet our standards,” US Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the opening of the Beijing office. “In the future our new strategy is to build safety into products at every step of the way.”
After meetings with Chinese officials on Tuesday, Leavitt said both countries would work on a joint initiative to use better technology for detecting contamination, demand greater corporate responsibility and increase sharing of data and information.
The Health and Human Services (HHS) press release states:
“We’re opening up a new era, not just new offices,” [HHS] Secretary Leavitt said. “By having a presence in other parts of the world, we can work more closely with manufacturers and other governments, better share best practices and further ensure that quality and safety are built into food and consumer products at the point of manufacture.”
“A permanent FDA presence in China will help us address the challenges presented by globalization,” Commissioner von Eschenbach said. “We look forward to working with the Chinese government and manufacturers to ensure that FDA standards for safety and manufacturing quality are met before products ship to the United States.”
The FDA has plans to build offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou, as well as cities in India, Latin America and Europe.
See also the news video US to create FDA Office in Beijing.
For more information, see CDT’s past posts on food safety.