China, U.S. To Discuss Safety Of Seafood Exports

Wednesday, July 18th 2007, 7:13 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ China and the U.S. will meet later this month to discuss the safety of China's seafood exports, an official said Wednesday, while news reports said tires that were the subject of a huge U.S. recall were found to meet American safety standards.

Meanwhile, Philippine authorities said they were testing more Chinese products after ordering several candy and cookie brands withdrawn from store shelves because they tested positive for a harmful embalming chemical.

The five-day meeting between teams from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Chinese food safety officials was scheduled to begin July 31 in Beijing, said Li Yuanping, who is in charge of the safety of import and export products at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The two sides also will discuss the set-up of a collaborative food safety mechanism, Li said.

``The meeting will help solve the issue of the United States detaining four kinds of Chinese seafood products. Secondly, it will also involve consultations on cooperation mechanisms of food safety between the two countries,'' he said.

The U.S. officials also will visit some Chinese food-processing factories.

Government officials issued the decision about the safety of the exported tires after inspecting the Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. and testing three tires at a government laboratory, the China Daily, the Oriental Morning Post and other newspapers reported.

``Our sample tests on the tires show they're qualified to be sold in the U.S.,'' Wang Xin, an official of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, was quoted as saying by the China Daily.

U.S. authorities ordered a recall of up to 450,000 tires made by Hangzhou Zhongce after its American distributor said they lacked a key component.

China has been hit by an avalanche of recalls and warnings in the United States and elsewhere targeting Chinese exports including drug-laced seafood, toothpaste made with a toxic chemical and children's toys with lead paint.

On Tuesday, Philippine authorities warned that some Chinese candies and cookies had tested positive for formaldehyde, an embalming chemical that has been linked to cancer in humans.

Major supermarkets and malls have 15 to 30 days to remove the contaminated items, the bureau's Deputy Director Joshua Ramos said without elaborating.

Beijing has launched a sweeping effort to repair the reputation of its export industries and protect access to foreign markets, promising more aggressive safety enforcement. But the government also has challenged some warnings, saying most Chinese goods have no problems and stressing that some other countries have a poorer product liability record.

The Hangzhou Zhongce case has received unusually prominent coverage by Chinese media because the company is the country's second-biggest tire manufacturer. Many companies involved in other recalls are small and less well-known.

The tire recall was ordered last month after the U.S. distributor, Foreign Tire Sales Inc. of Union, N.J., said they lacked a safety feature, called a gum strip, that binds together belts of a tire.

FTS was sued in May by the families of two men who were killed when a van in which they were riding crashed in Pennsylvania on Aug. 12, 2006. The lawsuit says the van had Hangzhou Zhongce tires.

Hangzhou Zhongce has denied supplying faulty products. People who answered the phone Wednesday at Hangzhou Zhongce, in the eastern city of Hangzhou, and at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in Beijing referred questions to spokespeople who were not immediately available.

In comments published in the China Daily, the company played down the significance of the gum strip.

``It's not included in the U.S. Motor Vehicle Safety Standards nor in our contract with FTS,'' Shen Jinrong, chairman of the Hangzhou Zhongce board of directors, was quoted as saying.