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China, U.S. to hold vice-ministerial level talk on food safety next month: offcial
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13:04, July 20, 2007

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China and the United States will hold a vice-ministerial-level talk on food safety in August, Li Changjiang, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), said in Beijng Friday.

Food safety is the common responsibility of different nations and regions worldwide, Li said at a press conference sponsored by the Information Office of the State Council, China's cabinet.

Li said food safety was not an issue of a certain nation, but a global issue. According to WHO Director-General Dr. Margaret Chan, the global health organization monthly receives 200 reports on food safety from 193 members on average. Li said this indicated food security is the common responsibility of all nations and regions.

Li noted China had established bilateral mechanisms with many countries as well as multi-lateral mechanisms with a lot of regions on food safety, including the United States, the European Union, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

According to Li, his organization has already established cooperative mechanisms with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and with FDA.

Chief of the General Office of the U.S. Department of Health is expected to visit to China in July to exchange views with Chinese officials on food safety, Li said.

As to the four categories of aquatic products (catfish, basa and dace, shrimp and eel) that were alleged to have banned substances, Li said China received a briefing on the issue from FDA and has since made an investigation.

Based on the investigation, Li said, China found the products indeed contained U.S.-banned substances and they were supplied by aquatic farms that had not been registered with Chinese health authorities.

China's export products have to go through strict inspection and quarantine procedures before they are sold abroad. The country's exports to the European Union and Japan as well as some other countries, are inspected at their customs houses with quality certificates issued by Chinese inspection and quarantine authorities, according to Li.

However, the situation is different with the United States, which opens all its ports to all sorts of enterprises and only runs random checks on imported goods. This is easily be made use of by lawbreakers, Li said.

To this end, AQSIQ is exchanging views on supervision mechanism with the FDA of the United States, in hopes of ensuring food safety on the basis of intensifying effective supervision by each side, Li added.

Source: Xinhua

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