Food and Agricultural Imports from China [Updated July 17, 2007]   [open pdf - 131KB]

"U.S. food and agricultural imports have increased significantly in recent years, causing some in Congress to question whether the U.S. food safety system can keep pace. A series of recent incidents have raised safety concerns about the many foods, medicines, and other products from China in particular. For example, in early 2007, evidence began to emerge that adulterated pet food ingredients from China had caused the deaths of an unknown number of dogs and cats. In late June 2007, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that it was detaining all imports of farm-raised seafood from China (specifically, shrimp, catfish, basa, dace, and eel) until the shippers of these products could confirm they are free of unapproved drug residues. U.S. imports of all Chinese food, agricultural, and seafood products have increased from nearly 0.411 million metric tons (MMT) in 1996 to 1.833 MMT in 2006, a 346% rise. The increase by value was 375%, from $880 million in 1996 to $4.2 billion in 2006. China was the sixth leading foreign supplier of agricultural products to the United States and the second leading seafood supplier in 2006. When seafood values are combined with food and agricultural products, China was the third leading foreign supplier, after Canada and Mexico. Two federal agencies-FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)-are primarily responsible for the government's food regulatory system, although a number of other federal, state, and local agencies also have important roles."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL34080
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