Don Lee, LA Times Staff Writer wrote about the real or imagined concerns about food safety between the United States and China – concern for consumers or politics?

China heats up food battle – Suspension of imports of pork ribs and other products from seven firms comes after U.S. acts on many items

Food safety issues are often used for political means in times of strained trade relations, said Doug Powell, head of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University. For example, Russia banned U.S. poultry imports in 2002 just a week after President Bush introduced steep tariffs on imported steel that resonated throughout the Russian steel industry.

“Politically, it’s a standard tactic,” Powell said. “They’ll say it is a food safety issue, but really it’s a political issue.”

Stephen J. Hedges, Chicago Tribune Writer wrote over the weekend about the never ending debate on food safety.  It is frustrating to see so little accomplished.

Veggie Booty case renews food recall worries – Some in Congress call for stronger roles for federal regulatory agencies

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., have introduced a bill that would strengthen the authority that the FDA and the Department of Agriculture have over food recalls. The USDA regulates meat, poultry and eggs; the FDA regulates all other foods.

The Senate has adopted most of Durbin’s bill as an amendment to the FDA’s budget reauthorization legislation. It includes provisions that would create a food contamination early warning system and requirements that food companies provide records to regulators upon request.  The Senate declined to approve a mandatory recall provision in Durbin’s bill. But the voluntary nature of recalls, critics contend, often leads to a series of expanding recalls as companies reluctantly come to the expensive conclusion that more and more of the product might endanger consumers.

The House did not include the food safety provisions in its version of the FDA bill, so final adoption is in doubt.