EU, U.S. to Step up Product Safety Efforts with China

One goal is to familiarize U.S. and EU regulators with China's manufacturing practices.

On Sept. 19, U.S. and European consumer protection officials pledged to step up product safety efforts in China, following a major scare over dairy products. The new product safety initiative aims to increase awareness among Chinese manufacturers of consumer safety regulations in the U.S. and Europe, and make U.S. and EU regulators more familiar with China's manufacturing practices.

The initiative, initially focusing on clothes, toys and electrical products, will not address the milk powder scandal or other food safety issues.

"The fact that regulatory authorities from China's two biggest markets have travelled so far to be here today underscores our joint commitment to help China comply with our respective economies," said Nancy Nord, head of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

China's tainted milk scandal has resulted in the deaths of at least four infants, while over 6,000 babies have developed kidney stones after ingesting milk powder laced with the chemical melamine.

China has insisted that the tainted milk products have not reached Europe or the U.S. but some parts of Asia, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, have imported the dangerous products.

Robert Madelin, director of Health and Consumers in the European Community, said the EU was working with Chinese regulators on the tainted milk issue and that trust between regulatory agencies was improving. "I know from experience that these sorts of cases, where apparently illegal or fraudulent acts lead to problems in safety, are the most difficult for any of us to deal with," Madelin said.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2008

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