The US Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday opened an inspection office in Beijing to help China export safer products to America and the world an to boost consumer confidence in products imported from China, reports the LA Times.
The new FDA field office, one of three to be opened in China, is the first outside the U.S. and comes during a dip in U.S. consumer confidence in Chinese-made products after reports of counterfeit drugs, melamine-laced milk and toys covered in potentially lethal lead paint.
Chinese officials urged the U.S. to lift new restrictions on imported foods from China, insisting that Beijing has taken effective measures to improve food safety standards since the recent tainted-milk scandal that killed four children and sickened tens of thousands of people.
Last year, the U.S. imported $321.5 billion in Chinese products, establishing China as America’s second-largest trading partner after Canada.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach said: We’re not here to superimpose our system on China…We’re here to be partners and collaborators, and offer our expertise as they request it. But consumers want to know the products they use are safe and are subjected to rigorous scrutiny. This will help ensure that.” James Rice, head of the China operations of Tyson Foods Inc said, “These FDA officials here are not going to inspect everything coming from China into the U.S. But it’s better than nothing.”
The U.S. hopes to work with China as part of a global product safety strategy that would eventually involve opening similar inspection offices in India, South America, Europe and the Middle East, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told a gathering of Chinese manufacturers.