The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has opened its first overseas office in Beijing, part of a plan to work more closely with government agencies and producers in key countries to ensure and raise the standards of US-bound products.
The move is the first in an anticipated surge of such office openings across the globe, with similar projects planned for India, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and a further two in China, according to USA Today.
"We are importing about 15 per cent of the food that we eat in the United States, and it is increasing every year," said David Acheson, FDA associate commissioner for foods. "It's much easier if we can build the collaboration at a local level rather than trying to do it from 8,000 miles away.
The Chinese office will consist up of eight experts in the fields of food, medicine and medical devices – which may not be enough to cover the industry, according to some.
"They are just eight people, and this is a huge industry," said Jeffrey Schultz of Pharmaceutical Association Committee. "They have the hardest job in China – they've got thousands of factories they need to regulate."
A Chinese government spokesman said that it "deeply regretted" the FDA's move.
China has been the source of numerous food safety scares in the past two years, including a melamine scare earlier in the year when the chemical was found to exist in baby formula, sickening thousands of Chinese infants.