President Bush Forms Import Safety Panel

On Wednesday, President Bush established a Cabinet-level panel to recommend how to ensure the safety of imported food and other products and how better to police them.

The panel will be chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt. Leavitt is expected to report its recommendations to President Bush in 60 days.

The White House denied that this move was aimed at China even though the announcement was made on the same day that senators heard testimony from regulators about problems caused by the rapid growth of imports from China.

“It’s important for the American people to know their government is on top of this situation and constantly reviewing procedures and practices,” Bush said after his first meeting with the Working Group on Import Safety.

From Forbes:

This is a serious issue - food safety and consumer safety is a serious issue. We take it seriously,” Bush said. “The American people expect their government to work tirelessly to make sure consumer products are safe. And that’s precisely what my administration is doing.”

Sen. Sherrod Brown said the creation of the panel will not address the problem.

“Establishing a product safety panel is like stamping out a single leaf in a forest fire,” said Brown, D-Ohio, who called for a broader look at trade issues.

White House spokesman Tony Snow said the move was not “a slap at China.”

“This is, in fact, a normal piece of business. We get food imports from 150 countries around the world. It’s important to monitor them all,” Snow told reporters.

Sen. Mark Pryor, an Arkansas Democrat who chaired the Senate hearing, was skeptical about the president’s executive order, saying it was more important to adequately fund existing agencies than create a study group.

“We need to have oversight of our marketplace,” said Pryor. “I don’t know if you need another panel looking at this.”

10 Responses to “President Bush Forms Import Safety Panel”

  1. pat says:

    it is a basic tenet of government that if the public perceives a problem, and you intend to do nothing to address it, you form a committee to look at it.

  2. Lynne says:

    pat, exactly right. Overseeing food safety is the FDA’s domain, the same agency that has seen its funding slashed by this joke of an administration.

  3. HomeGrown says:

    Put a bandaid on a gaping wound, yeah that should work. I don’t expect much from HHS.

    An excerpt from the liveblogging of the FDA hearing:

    Q: you say that investigators advised committee staff that mandatory protocols are necessary and things won’t change until there are those mandatory requirements
    A: yes, that was the unanimous opinion - about 20 people said that voluntary guidelines would have no real impact- the industry itself would prefer mandatory guidelines- the state inspectors also agree that there should be mandatory guidelines
    Q: yes, Congress should mandate these- and the FDA should move forward to have mandatory protocols- Congress will have to act if FDA won’t
    A: FDA had gone to the Dept of Human and Health services to propose of mandatory protocol and Dept of HHS refused”

  4. catmom5 says:

    I think this was a political move pure and simple to give the APPEARANCE of caring and wanting to do the right thing for the American people. Sure, the government is on top of this . . . wink, wink!

  5. Roberto P. says:

    Cabinet level committee. Now that will work. This from the President who, when questioned about the Patriot Act, called the Constitution a “goddamned piece of paper.”

  6. e wem says:

    You mean we didn’t already have oversight?

    This government as currently run exists to facilitate the profits of other nations, and the profits of the importers who are American citizens in name only.

    There is no way to test all the millions of tons of product being imported into America. Some of the imports have been proven to be falsely labeled or smuuggled in illegally

    Almost all major canners and food manufacterers have switched to the ‘distributed by’ gimmick on their labels to avoid revealing any information about what they sell.

    Major retailers in my area have proven they absolutely do not want us to know the country of origin of their ingredients because the store brands they sell are even more obscure about the contents. In my locale a store brand is a ‘distributed by’ brand.

    I know that most of the so-called fresh baked goods sold in a local super market chain are in fact frozen product shipped in from Canada. There is no hint that product is from another country on the label. The competing super markets, and the largest big box store here are selling what looks like the identical Canadian product, with the same lack of information on the box

    How much money are these jokers making to sit on that committee?

    We need country of origin on the label. That is our only hope to defend ourselves from this con game

  7. SMITH111 says:

    I believe the biggest problem “Americans” have today is that we have NO REAL connection to our politicians. Does our vote really count? Who really reads our letters and emails to our elected officials? DO WE REALLY HAVE ANY SAY? OR are we just being manipulated by Big Business, the Government and the Pentagon?

    Different subject: Please visit You can email stores that are again selling Menu Foods pet foods, with your opinion. Many other things of interest on this web site too.

  8. Katie says:

    What a joke! this has been going on for how long, but after the amazing information that came out of the FDA hearings, Bush tries to “smell like a rose” I can only hope the American citizens wise up! I’m afraid agribusiness is so entrenched in the gov’t it would take a gigantic forklift to move them out including every congress person and gov’t official getting perks from them.

    SMITH111; big business runs our government and the world.


  9. Don says:

    How can a “cabinet level” panel expect to develop protocols to track food imports that’s fed to 12-20 million illegal immigrants that can’t be tracked?

    Another disaster in the making - and it doesn’t matter one bit as to which poilitical party is in office.

  10. gatorfan says:

    Not that the FDA and this admin. is worth my time and this space, I say we make Bush/Cheney and every other elected official REGARDLESS of which side of the aisle they are on - become food tasters. Job would be mandatory - before you get a check, eat something “inspected” from China; before you get your free doctor visit - brush your teeth with counterfeit toothpaste; before you get “driven” to the Capital as you are too busy to drive yourself, take mass transit or use gas friendly vehicles YOU ARE REQUIRED TO EAT ONE BITE OF ANY KIND OF PET FOOD. Try the brands that the reps, while in the pet stores, munch on to show how organic and human friendly they are - just before it is recalled. Before you stall on another war related vote or inaction, you are required to buy YOUR GRANDCHILDREN a (second time to be recalled) Easy Bake Oven. In other words force these “officials” to live like the rest of us - in fear of everything we think, do, say and eat. Those that refuse to comply will be sent to Michael Vicks lovely puppy farm for a day of special recreation.

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