From: Reuters
Published September 17, 2007 07:55 AM

U.S. envoys in China for talks on food, drug safety

BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. delegation will begin formal negotiations with Chinese officials in Beijing this week on deals to improve food and drug safety following a series of health scares that have shaken confidence in Chinese-made goods.

Rich McKeown, chief of staff of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, will head the delegation, which aims to negotiate two agreements, one on the safety of food and feed and a second covering drugs and medical devices.

"The draft agreements aim to create a framework to help assure the safety, quality and effectiveness of products exported from China to the United States," the department said in a statement received on Monday.

"They also aim to increase cooperation and information-sharing between the regulatory bodies of the two nations ... ," it said, adding they should be concluded by December.

The United States stepped up inspections of imports from China after an additive in pet food led to pet deaths there earlier this year.

Since then, a wave of quality problems related to Chinese exports, from food and drugs to toys and toothpaste, have come to light, raising fears about manufacturing standards in China and denting confidence in the "made-in-China" label.

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