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Food and Agricultural Imports from China

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Congressional rept.

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U.S. food and agricultural imports have increased significantly in recent years. A series of recent incidents have raised safety concerns about the many foods, medicines, and other products from China in particular. U.S. imports of all Chinese food, agricultural, and seafood products have increased from nearly 0.411 million metric tons MMT in 1996 to 1.833 MMT in 2006, a 346 rise. Two federal agencies - FDA and the U.S. Department of Agricultures USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service FSIS - are primarily responsible for the governments food regulatory system. For imports, FSIS which has oversight over most meat and poultry relies on a very different regulatory system than FDA which has oversight over other foods. Although all imported food products must meet the same safety standards as domestically produced foods, international trade rules permit a foreign country to apply its own, differing, regulatory authorities and institutional systems in meeting such standards, under a concept known as equivalence. Some Members of Congress have expressed sharp criticism of both Chinas food safety record and U.S. efforts to insure the safety of imports. Congressional committees have held, or are planning, hearings on food safety concerns. On May 2, 2007, Sen. Durbin won unanimous approval of an amendment to the Senate-passed FDA Revitalization Act S. 1082 that would require domestic and foreign facilities to notify FDA of food safety problems, and would require FDA to establish a central registry for collecting information and notifying the public about adulterated foods. The amendment includes elements of his proposed Human and Pet Food Safety Act of 2007 S. 1274. Separate bills S. 1776 and H.R. 2997 would, among other things, impose new user fees on food imports to help cover the cost of their screening. More comprehensive bills H.R. 1148S. 654 would combine current federal food safety oversight under a new food safety administration.

Subject Categories:

  • Agricultural Economics
  • Agronomy, Horticulture and Aquiculture
  • Government and Political Science
  • Food, Food Service and Nutrition

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