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Harper concerned about Made in China recalls

[PoliticsWatch updated 4:45 p.m. August 15, 2007]

The safety of products being imported from countries such as China will be discussed at next week's North American Leaders' Summit, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday. 

OTTAWA  —  Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday his government is concerned about the growing number of recalls of products from countries such as China.    

The prime minister made the comment after being asked about Tuesday's massive recall of toys produced in China because of safety concerns. 

"In terms of the growing concerns that Canadians have with the quality of some imported products from some parts of the world, and we've seen a number of recalls, not just toys but some other products as well, I can tell you that the government is concerned about this," Harper said. "We are examining this carefully." 

Harper said dangerous imported products and massive recalls would be on the table next week when he meets with U.S. President George W. Bush and Mexican President Felipe Calderon at the North American Leaders' Summit.

"The importation of products from abroad and the safety standards of those products that will be something we'll be taking a look at from a continental perspective," he said.

Toy giant Mattel has recalled 18 million Chinese-made toys worldwide because of dangerous magnets and lead paint. 

Tuesday's third recall by Mattel has prompted one high-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, Senator Dick Durban, to call for the U.S. government  to "temporarily detain and inspect all shipments of children's products from China that contain paint."

Toys, however, are not the only products that have been recalled from China recently. There have been recalls of counterfeit toothpaste, contaminated pet food and unsafe car tires just to name a few. 

There have also been concerns expressed about drug and drug ingredients imported from developing countries, such as China and India

Corruption in China's State Food and Drug Administration was so rampant that the government executed its former drug regulator, Zheng Xiaoyu, in July after he was found guilty of taking bribes for drug approval. 

Health Canada confirmed to PoliticsWatch recently that it relies on companies in China and India to conduct their own testing of active drug ingredients for export to Canadian drug makers. 

"The foreign manufacturer is responsible for conducting active pharmaceutical ingredient testing," Health Canada told PoliticsWatch.

"Canadian importers must conduct finished product testing only. The foreign fabricator must conduct raw material (active pharmaceutical ingredient) testing. Canadian fabricators who import active pharmaceutical ingredients for use as raw materials must test each lot, before using them to make finished products."

Although China's drug regulator has vowed to invest $1 billion to upgrade its inspection and safety some industry observers doubt that will be a sufficient amount to reduce concerns. 

"The Chinese FDA just doesn't have the infrastructure," Les Funtleyder, drug analyst for Miller Tabak, recently told CNNMoney.com.  "They don't have the hundreds of inspectors who go out (to check factories). They don't have the training. Until they bring things up to speed, I'm not sure the FDA is going to just accept drugs made in China."

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> Health Canada relies on India and China to test drug ingredients sent to Canada

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