US halt to Chinese seafood protested

Updated: 2007-06-30 14:43

A key Chinese official criticized a US block on China's seafood as "indiscriminate," and urged closer cooperation on food safety between the two trading partners.

"China cannot accept the indiscriminate and automatic detention of four kinds of Chinese seafood by the United States" Li Changjiang, the head of China's top quality watchdog, was quoted as saying.

Li made his comments late Friday during a telephone conversation with US Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Li, the head of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, urged the US side to "properly deal with the problem as soon as possible."

The US Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it would detain three types of fish -- catfish, basa and dace -- as well as shrimp and eel after repeated testing turned up contamination with drugs unapproved in the United States for use in farmed seafood.

US officials said there have been no reports of illnesses nor do the products pose any immediate health risk. They stopped short of ordering a ban on the fresh and frozen seafood.

China has already adopted measures to solve the problems of the Chinese seafood complained by the US side, Li said.

Li said there were a "handful of Chinese seafood enterprises" that had problems with quality control but that this did not warrant a blanket detention on all Chinese exporters of those types of seafood.

He told Leavitt that China also detected many substandard foodstuff among US exports to China every year, and these problems were properly handled in the principle of cooperation.

Likewise, there might be isolated cases of Chinese enterprises exporting products with quality problems to the United States. 

Earlier this week, China seized shipments of US-made orange pulp and dried apricots containing high levels of bacteria and preservatives. 

Leavitt was quoted as saying the US would send a team to China soon to negotiate a solution to the seafood ban.

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