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Europe

EU and China Sign Consumer Protection Deal

The European Commission and China agreed Monday to beef up controls on potentially dangerous Chinese products and food exported to the EU in the wake of high profile scares involving Chinese goods.

Chinese officials looking at milk cartons in a store

The recent tainted milk scandal sparked an outcry from China's trading partners

A major scandal involving contaminated milk powder that left at least four infants dead and 53,000 others hospitalized in China provided impetus for the deal, although European officials have been concerned about the safety of products made in China for some time now.

Under the agreement, China will now be obliged to inform the European Union about what it is doing to track down dangerous goods. The deal allows for officials from the EU and China to carry out coordinated checks on producers to ensure safety standards are being met.

Chinese officials will also be given access to the EU's Rapid Alert System for Feed and Food (RASFF), where authorities can exchange information about what measures are being taken to ensure food safety.

The deal "substantially strengthens the systems of safety controls for product and food safety between the EU and China," said Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.

After the agreement was signed, Nancy A. Nord from the US Consumer Product Safety Commission joined her counterparts from the EU and China to consider possible three-way cooperation which could include common safety standards for toys.

The European Commission says half of all dangerous products seized by European authorities last year came from China.

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