U.S. Import Safety Working Group Points to Technology and Manufacturing Quality

Improving the safety of U.S. imports will require boosting the quality of the manufacturing process and expanding the use of technology, two members of a presidential working group said yesterday. They said, however, that improvement cannot be accomplished through blanket inspections.

“We will not be able to inspect our way to food and product safety,” said Mike Leavitt, secretary of Health and Human Services and chairman of the panel. “The scale makes it impossible to inspect everything.” He predicted that imports would increase threefold by 2015.

The group’s strategic plan will include measures to improve safety by boosting manufacturing quality, using technology to inspect more goods at ports rather than in faraway labs and ensuring that exporting countries understand U.S. safety standards, Leavitt said.

“If you desire to produce goods for American consumers, you need to meet the expectations of quality and safety that Americans have,” he said.

The working group was formed in July after several types of goods from China raised concerns.

Recent recalls of toys, toothpaste and tires imported from China have spurred congressional calls to reform the way the government oversees imports.

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