FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 30, 2007
Contact: HHS Press Office
Statement by Mike Leavitt, Secretary of Health and Human Services, on the United States-China Bilateral Meeting on Food and Drug Safety
Following the second U.S.-China Strategic Economic Dialogue (SED) in May of this year, Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns and I and other representatives of the U.S. Government met with representatives of the Government of the People’s Republic of China to request rapid action to accomplish certain goals related to the safety of food and drugs. We emphasized the need for three things: to have better cooperation, to have better information, and to have the Chinese devise and enforce regulations that we can understand, with which we agree and in which we feel confident.
As a follow-up to those discussions, our two countries have committed to a series of bilateral meetings in the coming months on food and drug safety. Today, I am sending my Chief of Staff on a fact-finding mission to Beijing to pave the way for us to open discussions on developing two Memoranda of Agreement (MOA) between our two governments, one on the safety of food and feed, and one on the safety of drugs and medical devices.
This week’s meetings, those to follow, and the MOAs we hope to develop are important steps forward in addressing problems with food and other imports from China, which investigations by the Food and Drug Administration within my department have brought to light. Our U.S. regulatory agencies are concerned about what they see as an insufficient infrastructure across the board in China to assure the safety, quality and effectiveness of many products exported to the United States.
I am hopeful that we can achieve two, strong, action-oriented documents by December. We believe that with the technology, the scientific expertise, and the commitment each side has, we can work together to correct the outstanding issues.
While the Cabinet-level Working Group on Import Safety the President has asked me to chair is not focused just on China or on food and drugs, I am sure what my team learns on its trip this week will feed into the recommendations the working group will make to the President in September.
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Last revised: May 7, 2011