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Firms notified of new food import policies
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-05-14 22:58

As part of ongoing efforts to fight bioterrorism, the United States plans to implement two more regulations on food imports.

"The regulations, which will possibly take effect this month, will impact China's food export enterprises if they don't fully understand them," said Gu Shaoping, deputy division director of the China National Administration for Certification and Accreditation (CNCA).

During an exclusive interview with China Daily, Gu urged food exporters to heed the regulations aimed at safeguarding the US food supply.

The new rules will require all businesses that manufacture, process, pack, transport, distribute, receive, hold or import food to create and maintain records to facilitate tracing suspicious shipments of human or animal food.

The move is part of efforts to counter bio-terrorism after the September 11 attacks.

The regulations authorize the detention of food if there is credible evidence or information indicating that the food poses a serious threat to humans or animals.

Two other regulations took effect December 12 of last year.

The first requires domestic and foreign food manufacturers who process, pack or hold food for US human or animal consumption to register with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The second requires food importers to provide the FDA with advance notice of human and animal food shipments. This allows the FDA to know in advance when a specific food shipment will arrive at US ports as well as the shipment's contents.

"The four regulations guarantee an integrated process to ensure security of food imports into the US," said Gu.

Food safety experts said the regulations, as part of procedural barriers, pose a challenge to Chinese food exporters and producers.

But during a recent visit to China, Camille E. Brewer, international activities co-ordinator for Food Safety and Security of the FDA said CNCA has done an excellent job helping the Chinese industry in ensuring compliance with the FDA Bioterrorism Act registration. Louis J. Carson, an FDA representative, said there are about 8,000 Chinese businesses registered so far.

The CNCA said massive publicity among Chinese food exporters has helped ensure they are well-informed.

"But some food export enterprises have not been made aware of the regulations and that may bring business risks for them, especially after August 12 when the transitional period of the first two regulations ends," said Gu.

The United States is the fourth biggest market for China's agricultural and food exports, making up 9 per cent of the country's annual total foreign exchange.

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