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CU urges strong action on the safety of imports

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

“Devil is in the Details” on Administration’s Plan for Import Safety

Washington, DC—Consumers Union urges Congress and the Administration to take strong action to address the safety of imports as they consider the Administration’s Interagency Working Group’s recommendations and other product safety legislation currently pending before Congress.
“We appreciate that the Administration recognizes the importance of safe products with the release of its report today on import safety, but we feel the devil is in the details. We welcome certain proposals in the report, such as calling for the FDA to have mandatory recall authority and acknowledging that more resources will be needed to beef up our safety agencies. But the report raises many questions and leaves some matters unaddressed,” said Jean Halloran, Director of Food Policy Initiatives at Consumers Union.
“There is no specific recommendation offered about the budget increases that will be necessary to improve food and product safety. The report also suggests that penalties for violations of consumer safety rules should be increased, but it doesn’t raise the fines high enough for them to act as a deterrent. And the focus on the voluntary ‘carrot’ approach – enticing companies to buy from ‘certified’ producers to import products more quickly – appears to shift the emphasis towards increasing trade and away from the number one priority – ensuring that all products entering the US are safe,” according to Halloran.
“Furthermore, we see no recommendation about reducing lead in children’s products. We support getting toxic lead out of all consumer products, but especially children’s toys and other products they use. With lead-tainted products flooding the market, we are disappointed the Administration appears to have missed an important moment to support eliminating this health threat,” added Halloran.
“Given that this year there has seen a record number of recalls for hazardous products, we feel safety should not be optional or voluntary,” added Halloran.
Consumers Union is calling pre-shipment inspections and testing, creating a U.S.-based certification program for products and a traceability program for food, products, and all components and ingredients in order to hold producers, importers, distributors, and retailers, more accountable. Everything coming into the U.S. should meet U.S. safety standards.
For more information see www.NotInMyCart.org.
Jennifer Fuson