WASHINGTON U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt on Wednesday signed a Joint Progress Statement with Li Changjiang, minister of the general administration of quality supervision, inspection and quarantine of the People’s Republic of China that outlines steps taken by both nations in implementing the 2007 Memorandum of Agreement on food and feed safety.
“Today’s progress report reflects strong and sustained cooperation by both nations to strengthen the safety of food products exported to the United States from China,” Leavitt said. “I’m very pleased with our efforts and commend our Chinese counterparts for their commitment to this important work.”
The statement describes progress in several important areas:
- Establishment of a mechanism for cooperation on significant events related to food and feed safety, including designated points of contact, emergency contacts, and thresholds for notifications; enhancing the exchange of information on the safety of food and feed safety; and developing a better understanding by both sides of each others’ respective regulatory systems.
- Development of concrete steps that will lead to a system whereby AQSIQ will electronically certify to FDA that specific products sent for export to the United States meet FDA standards for safety and manufacturing quality.
- Focus efforts on inspections and supervision and laboratory testing standards to ensure food and feed safety. The United States agreed to conduct training for Chinese officials on U.S. regulatory standards and requirements.
- Establishment of a cooperative mechanism to notify each other of significant risks to public health related to product safety or the gross deception of consumers, and to share information to facilitate each other’s investigation.
The parties are meeting this week in Annapolis, Md., as part of the fourth session under the United States-China Strategic Economic Dialogue.
The MOA, signed during the third session under the SED in December of 2007, established a bilateral mechanism to provide greater information and other assurances to enhance the safety of food and feed products traded between the two countries. Since its signing, HHS’ Food and Drug Administration and AQSIQ have planned a joint implementation work strategy and have begun the initial steps called for under the agreement.