Commerce Subcommittee Opens Probe of Food Imports

The U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation is scheduled to hold the first in a planned series of hearings on food safety and imported foods at 9:30 a.m. EDT today with witnesses from FDA and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service expected to testify. A report prepared by committee staffers who visited Chinese plants and Beijing's inspection and quarantine (CIQ) office in August recommends that FDA limit Chinese food imports to companies bearing the Chinese government's CIQ certificate; FDA does not acknowledge the certificates thus far, the report says. The report notes that India's food items are rejected at our borders more often than China's, and that expanding the FSIS inspection system to all Chinese food imports would halt them entirely, wreaking economic havoc.

"Even sampling 15 percent of our imports in FDA labs would amount to an astronomical increase from the present levels," the staff's report says. "The United States, however, needs to sample enough so that detection becomes a deterrent. This will require some magnifying of our current efforts. It will also necessitate significantly more laboratory capacity for FDA."

The hearing will be carried as a webcast via http://energycommerce.house.gov/. For more information about food safety, including the FDIS Be Food Safe campaign for consumers and its magazine of the same name, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/Be_Foodsafe_Magazine/index.asp.

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