SOURCE: Committee of 100

April 18, 2008 20:49 ET

Chinese Food and Product Safety Worries Overblown, Experts Commented at the Committee of 100's Annual Conference

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - April 18, 2008) - Concerns about the safety of food and products from China that were raised by problems with pet food and toys were overblown, said industry experts on the second day of the Committee of 100's 17th Annual Conference. "Many suppliers from China were asking whether the recall frenzy [in the U.S.] was related to politics or anti-China sentiment," said Charles Woo, CEO of Megatoys. According to a recent Committee of 100 poll conducted by Zogby International, more than two-thirds of Americans were less confident in Chinese goods because of safety worries. A 2007 Reuters/Zogby poll found that 78% of Americans were worried about the safety of Chinese imports, noted Clarence Kwan, National Managing Partner of the Chinese Services Group at Deloitte & Touche USA.

"The Chinese government pays great attention to product quality and food safety," said Li Yuanping, Director General of China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. "'Made in China' is a brand of trust. The majority of Chinese goods are trustworthy." Added Li: "Reports from the media are groundless. One-sided reporting often causes misunderstanding." China is not the problem, argued Greg Gardner, President and CEO of Specialized Technology Resources (STR). "China is a fantastic place to source. It's not China or any other country; it's the factory."

"We have seen the benefits of China's enhanced enforcement [of standards] in recent months and applaud their efforts," said Laura Phillips, Chief Toy Officer at Wal-Mart. "We take our relationships with our suppliers very seriously. The bottom line is that the best suppliers make the best products." After an audit of Wal-Mart's suppliers, most of which are in China, "we found that 99.99% of our products were safe," Phillips observed. "We are proud that Wal-Mart was the leader in implementing new toy safety standards this year. China will continue to be our number one source for toys. The work of our great suppliers will mean that we will continue to have quality products from China for our customers."

Companies facing a crisis of confidence in its products must quickly provide information to consumers, said Debra Wong Yang, Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. "You have to have a spokesperson out there." She added: "From the retailer's end, you have to deal with the bloggers. They fuel the fever, the panic. I advise clients to be more aggressive. There's no other way to combat the message that may be out there."

"The food and product safety issue is impacting U.S.-China trade," said Gen. John L. Fugh, Chairman of the Committee of 100. "We hope to facilitate open discussions on this issue from both the American and Chinese perspectives to find shared solutions." Added Woo: "It's important to bring together different perspectives so we can speed up the time for China to regain the confidence of the American consumer."

Under the theme "Bridging Progress, Sharing Vision," the Committee of 100's 17th Annual Conference opened yesterday. The three-day meeting provides a forum for leaders in business, government, and civil society to discuss U.S.-Greater China relations and issues of interest to Chinese-Americans.

Founded in 1989 by prominent Chinese Americans, the Committee of 100 is an independent, non-partisan, non-profit membership organization composed of Chinese American leaders in a broad range of professions. With members' knowledge and experience, the Committee is committed to a dual mission: (1) encouraging constructive relations between the U.S. and Greater China and (2) encouraging the full participation of Chinese Americans in all aspects of American life. For more information: www.committee100.org.

Bridging Progress, Sharing Vision
Committee of 100 17th Annual Conference
April 17-19th, 2008
The Beverly Hilton
Beverly Hills, CA

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