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Murkowski Urges FDA Involvement in Lifting China Shellfish Ban

Senator Gets Assurance from FDA Director They’ll Be Available to Support Effort “24 Hours a Day”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Lisa Murkowski today took the opportunity of the Food and Drug Administration Director’s appearance on Capitol Hill to get answers for Alaskans about FDA’s role in resolving China’s ban on West Coast shellfish imports.  Her focus was on an upcoming meeting with officials in China that will be the next important step towards lifting the ban.

The China trip – which Senator Murkowski urged federal agencies to schedule quickly – was confirmed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Tuesday for next Friday, March 21st.  The U.S. Delegation will include representatives from NOAA, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and the Foreign Agriculture Service of the Department of Agriculture.  Since the FDA has primary jurisdiction over food safety issues in the U.S., Murkowski was concerned that FDA will not be there, asking “I want to know what FDA’s role will be in these discussions and whether you’re attending.  And if not, why not?”

(Murkowski asks FDA Director why they are not joining delegation to China – Click to watch.)

FDA Director Doctor Margaret Hamburg responded to Murkowski that though NOAA and USTR were taking the lead for the meeting in China, her experts have been in contact with their Chinese counterparts, providing them the government’s public health assessments of the shellfish.  Murkowski also gained assurance from Dr. Hamburg that if a FDA-related issue becomes a sticking point in the discussions, then FDA officials will be ready to help “24 hours a day” in order to find a resolution to this costly ban.

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