China: U.S. Media Exaggerating Food Safety Concerns

China's top quality control official accused foreign media of raising unnecessary alarm about the safety of the country's food and drug exports, complaining in particular about U.S. reports.

The U.S. and other countries have cracked down on Chinese products since the Food and Drug Administration found in April that North American dogs and cats had been poisoned by tainted Chinese pet food ingredients. Since then, a growing number of Chinese products have been found to contain potentially toxic chemicals and other adulterants.

Increasingly Chinese authorities have responded by prominently announcing their own rejections of imports, including orange pulp, dried apricots, raisins and health supplements from the United States — apparently to show that they are not the only ones with food safety problems.

Most recently, China suspended some U.S. imports of chicken feet and pigs' ears.

"Some foreign media, especially those based in the U.S., have wantonly reported on so called unsafe Chinese products. They are turning white to black," said Li Changjiang, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

"One company's problem doesn't make it a country's problem. If some food products are below standard, you can't say all the country's food is unsafe," he said in comments Monday in the state-run China Daily.

The agency is China's quality control watchdog and has some responsibility in overseeing the safety of Chinese products.

Li said more than 99 percent of Chinese food exports to the U.S. in the past three years had met quality standards, the same or better than the amount of U.S. food exports to China.

The top Communist Party boss in the northeastern port city of Tianjin, Li Chuanqing, was also quoted as saying international media were "arousing unnecessary fears."

Earlier this month, the Chinese Foreign Ministry warned the media against exaggerating China's food safety problems and stirring consumer panic.

China's dismal product safety record — both within and outside its borders — has increasingly come under scrutiny, with major buyers such as the United States, Japan, and the European Union pushing Beijing to improve inspections.

On Friday, the administration posted a list on its Web site detailing imported American meat that it said had contaminants, including feed additives and veterinary drugs.

The Chinese agency said frozen poultry from Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc., the world's largest meat processor, was contaminated with salmonella. Tyson Foods said it was unaware of any tainted product.

In the latest move against suspect U.S. products, the quality watchdog said on its Web site Monday that protein powder imported from Los Angeles-based Jarrow Formulas Inc. contained too much selenium, an element that can be toxic in large doses.

The statement said all of the powder has been returned, but gave no other details.

Jarrow Formulas did not immediately return a phone message left Sunday evening seeking comment.