Bush administration officials and their Chinese counterparts sought Friday to nail down a plan to ensure the safety of products they export to the United States.
Dr. Andrew C. von Eschenbach, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, declined to discuss specific steps that China agreed to take to improve safety. However, he did say that Chinese health officials will come to Washington later this month to finalize details of a "memorandum of agreement" between the two countries.
"They are as concerned about confidence in the quality and safety of food and drugs as we are in the United States," von Eschenbach said.
Chinese food and other products ranging from seafood to toothpaste to toys are under intense scrutiny because they have been found to contain potentially deadly substances.
On Thursday, investigators with the House Energy and Commerce Committee reported that the food supply chain in China fails to meet international safety standards. The investigators said a lack of internal regulation in that country requires a much more vigorous program of inspections and testing than the FDA has been willing to pursue to date.