Endpoint: Food Safety

An article in the November 15, 2007, issue of IBO discussed increased concerns about food imports, particularly from China. On December 11, the US and China announced a formal agreement to improve food safety. The agreement applies to four products categories: “low-acid canned products or acidified food”; “pet food/pet treats of plant origin or animal origin”; “ingredients of food and feed”; and “all aquaculture farming products other than molluscan shellfish.” Under the agreement, Chinese food exporters must register with China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and submit to annual inspections.

In addition, the AQSIQ agreed to certify that exports of these foods from China to the US meet FDA standards. This registration and certification information will be provided to the US Department of Health and Human Services. In addition, the AQSIQ will develop a system to trace exported products from production to exportation. New testing plans include an AQSIQ program to determine the quality of food exported to the US, the countries’ joint development of laboratory and risk-assessment methods, the allowance for additional testing upon either the US or China’s request and a discussion concerning the US and China’s different maximum residue levels of veterinary drugs in animals used to produce food.

The results of a European Commission review of the EU’s consumer product safety programs were announced in November. The review found that the regulatory framework for product safety is satisfactory, but acknowledged shortcomings in enforcement. The Commission plans to audit the safety measures of the EU’s toy supply chain, which is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2008. The European Commission is also updating its directive on the safety of toys, including new chemical safety requirements, a proposal for which is due early next year. EU toy imports in 2005 totaled more than €10 billion ($12.5 billion).

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