too much food safety control to foreign countries
of Article: www.meatingplace.com
By Rory Harrington, 29-Jul-2009
The United States is giving away too
much control to some foreign countries over food safety as trade concerns
over-ride health issues, a leading US politician has said.
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro made the comments as she called for the
US Department of Agriculture to reform its system for the granting of meat
imports. The Democrat representative for Connecticut, who chairs the
congressional committee in charge of appropriating funds to the USDA, said
the current arrangements ceded too much control to overseas authorities.
"I think we need to take a hard look" at overhauling the
way the United States deems other nations' food safety rules equivalent to the U.S. system”’ she said. “When you grant equivalency, you lose most of the
control of the process.”
She challenged the wisdom of a USDA’s decision taken a few years ago
to allow imports of poultry from China. She said that recent Chinese food
scandals made her question whether US importers could be sure the meat had
been properly cooked in the first place.
DeLauro’s committee has stopped the USDA from giving Chinese poultry
imports the go-ahead and urged the ban continue into next year. A bill,
which currently awaits Senate approval, would insist on special inspections
before the imports were permitted.
Opponents of the ban – including a coalition of US meat companies –
fear the measure could trigger economic reprisals from China
– which has already lodged a complaint with the World Trade Organisation
(WTO). The group includes major meat
processors and producering companies such as Tyson, Sanderson
Farms and Pilgrim’s Pride.
Coalition spokesman and lawyer Kevin Bosch said: "We will
not be able to avoid a serious trade confrontation with China if Congress
does not reconsider.”
During the hearing, other members of the committee expressed
concerns over the safety of meat imports, with two consumer groups called
for more inspections on foreign plants.
Consumer group Public Citizen said Japan and Europe had “gone one
better” and had their own overseas inspectors as well as carrying out a
greater number of border re-inspections.