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First Steps in China-US Food Safety Deal
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China and the United States have agreed on an initial framework of the memorandum of food safety cooperation, China's top quality control agency said in Beijing Saturday.

The framework covers the safety system on food imports and exports, cooperation on the supervision mechanism and regulation standards, information exchange and the ministerial meetings mechanism, according to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

The two countries reached the agreement after Rich MeKeown, chief of staff for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, discussed with his Chinese counterparts food safety collaboration during his visit to China from Aug. 1 to 3.

The two sides will work out a detailed draft based on the initial framework at the next round of vice ministerial meeting, the agency said.

The AQSIQ said that the two sides have also agreed on a "close" cooperation arrangement for this year and showed their initiatives to solve the problems of common concern.

It is a common task of the international community to raise product quality and ensure food safety, Wei Chuanzhong, deputy chief of the AQSIQ, said after talks with McKeown.

Wei said China is willing to strengthen cooperation and exchanges with the U.S. and to resolve disputes on product quality and food safety through negotiations and investigations.

MeKeown's visit came after the U.S. and China seized unsafe products from each side this year.

The U.S. said the melamine-tainted wheat protein from China were linked to the deaths of cats and dogs in North America and claimed some of Chinese toothpastes, tires, and seafood unsafe.

Meanwhile, China seized orange pulp and dried apricots from the U.S. that contain excessive bacteria, mildew and sulfur dioxide.

(Xinhua News Agency August 5, 2007)

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