The Food and Drug Administration opened three offices in China late this past year as part of a strategy to improve safeguards on U.S. imports.
The contamination of Chinese ingredients that went into U.S. pet foods led to massive recalls in 2007. The same contaminant, melamine, resurfaced recently in Chinese infant formula—though the product did not appear to have reached the United States.
According to the FDA, establishing a permanent presence in China will allow officials to work together to address concerns about the safety of food and other products.
The FDA commissioner and the secretary of Health and Human Services traveled to Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai to mark the opening of the agency's new offices. They met with Chinese manufacturers and government officials to discuss policy and governance reforms to improve product safety.
"We're opening up a new era, not just new offices," said HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt. "By having a presence in other parts of the world, we can work more closely with manufacturers and other governments, better share best practices, and further ensure that quality and safety are built into food and consumer products at the point of manufacture."
"A permanent FDA presence in China will help us address the challenges presented by globalization," said FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach, MD. "We look forward to working with the Chinese government and manufacturers to ensure that FDA standards for safety and manufacturing quality are met before products ship to the United States."
The FDA also plans to open offices in India, Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.