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ผู้เขียน หัวข้อ: China not sole source of dubious food  (อ่าน 1820 ครั้ง)
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« เมื่อ: กรกฎาคม 15, 2007, 12:55:58 PM »

Source: International News                                      World News    13/07/2007 22:06:58
 

At a time when Chinese imports are under fire for being contaminated or defective, US federal records suggest that China is not the only country that has problems with its exports.



In fact, federal inspectors have stopped more food shipments from India and Mexico in the last year than they have from China, an analysis of data maintained by the Food and Drug Administration shows.



China has had much-publicized problems with contaminated seafood ó including a temporary ban late last month on imports of five species of farm-raised seafood from China ó but federal inspectors refused produce from the Dominican Republic and candy from Denmark more often.



For instance, produce from the Dominican Republic was stopped 817 times last year, usually for containing traces of illegal pesticides. Candy from Denmark was impounded 520 times.



By comparison, Chinese seafood was stopped at the border 391 times during the last year.



“The reality is, this is not a single-country issue at all,” said Carl R. Nielsen, who resigned from the Food and Drug Administration in 2005, after 28 years.



The FDA database does not necessarily capture a full and accurate picture of product quality from other countries.



For one thing, only one year of data is available on the agencyís Web site, and FDA officials declined to provide more data without a formal Freedom of Information request, a process that can take months, if not years.



In addition, the FDA inspects only about 1 percent of the imports that fall under its jurisdiction. So the agency may miss many of the products that are contaminated or defective.



The FDA database also fails to disclose the quantity of products that are refused, so it is impossible to know whether just a box of cucumbers was refused or a shipload.



In cases of recurrent problems, the FDA may issue an import alert, which leads to additional scrutiny at the border. Last month, for instance, the FDA issued not only the import alert for the Chinese fish, but also import alerts for Mexican cantaloupes and basmati rice from India, among others.



Rafael Laveaga, a spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, said the number of food safety problems from Mexican imports was minuscule given the huge volume of trade. He said that Mexican food products were scrutinized more thoroughly since they arrived by road transit, rather than by ship or airplane.



Banarshi Harrison, minister of commerce at the Embassy of India, said India had recently strengthened its food safety laws. He said contamination of spices and pickles might occur on occasion because they were processed by many small manufacturers.



“There is really no evidence of a systematic problem for any particular product,” he said.



Food safety officials from the Dominican Republic and Denmark could not be located for comment.



Despite the shortcomings with the FDA database of import refusals, the available information makes clear that quality problems extend well beyond China, where officials recently admitted that nearly 20 percent of the countryís products are substandard or tainted.



Critics say the FDA has not changed to deal with the flood of imports in the last decade, as trade agreements have opened up borders to products from across the globe.



The United States imported $1.86 trillion in merchandise last year, compared with $1.14 trillion in 2001, a 63 percent increase, according to Commerce Department records.
 


Source or related URL: http://www.thenews.com.pk
 
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