HHS Announces Latest Efforts with China to Further Improve Cooperation on Food Safety

HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt and FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, M.D., will travel to the People’s Republic of China during the week of Nov. 17, 2008, for consultations with their Chinese counterparts. During this week, as part of an ongoing strategy to address the food safety issues in both countries and to share ideas to address global food safety, U.S. and Chinese government officials will conduct two workshops in Beijing. This will include a discussion of the recent outbreak of foodborne illness in the United States related to fresh produce as well as the melamine contamination of dairy products in China. In addition, during this trip, the Secretary and the Commissioner will open FDA’s new offices in three cities in China.

During the first workshop, on Nov. 18, 2008, Secretary Leavitt, Chinese Minister of Health Chen Zhu, and Commissioner von Eschenbach, will discuss policy and governance reforms aimed at improving the safety of food and other consumer products in China and in the United States.

During the second workshop, on Nov. 19, 2008, technical and scientific experts from FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Chinese Ministry of Health, and the Chinese General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, will address the evaluation of, response to, and treatment of melamine contamination and other foodborne outbreaks. They also will exchange the latest scientific data on the toxicity of melamine in humans.

From Nov. 19 to Nov. 21, 2008, Secretary Leavitt and Commissioner von Eschenbach will open FDA offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai, and will introduce some of the new FDA staff members assigned to China.

Establishing a permanent FDA presence in China will greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness of our regulatory cooperation and our efforts to protect consumers in both countries, and to assist the Chinese Government in its ongoing efforts to improve its regulatory systems for exports.

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