China and US to meet over food-safety woes

US and Chinese officials will meet this month to discuss the widening problem of tainted foods produced in China which has emerged as a new source of trade tension, state press reported.

China and US to meet over food-safety woes
The two sides will convene July 31 for five days of talks in Beijing on how to improve food safety mechanisms, Xinhua news agency quoted Li Yuanping, a government official in charge of China's food quality control, as saying.

The announcement comes after a spate of problems with Chinese goods put a spotlight on the general quality of the country's exports and injected a new source of tension into a perennially tense trade relationship.

Last month Washington announced it would slap broad controls on Beijing's seafood imports over concerns about unsafe chemical residues on farm-raised catfish, basa, shrimp, dace, and eel.

The Xinhua report came a day after a US congressional panel on Tuesday condemned US import inspections systems after finding that only one percent of all food imports are inspected.

The congressional commitee also found that US authorities had known for years that seafood imports from Asia were arriving in packages treated with carbon monoxide gas to make them look fresher than they really are.

Investigators from the House of Representatives committee on Energy and Commerce also said China had been sending fish to the United States contaminated with antibiotics and an anti-fungal treatment suspected to cause cancer.

Chinese officials have blamed foreign media for fanning the controversy amid reports at home and abroad of buns filled with cardboard, disease-infected pigs, toxic toothpaste and unsafe toys.

China, however, has acknowledged problems and vowed to take action, but has also announced a series of seizures of US imports on safety grounds in moves seen as retaliatory.

China last week executed the former head of its food and drug safety watchdog for corruption, in a decision widely interpreted as an attempt by the government to show it is serious about the problem.

AFP

Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Temmuz 2007, 17:04
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