Food safety experts should be part of the review process of Shuanghui International’s proposed acquisition of Smithfield Foods, one of the largest producers of pork products in the U.S., says a bipartisan group of senators. The proposed purchase will undergo a national security review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew will decide which agencies will be included.
In a letter to Secretary Lew, members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry asked that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) be added to the review to ensure that the safety of the American food supply is not jeopardized. “We believe that our food supply is critical infrastructure that should be included in any reasonable person’s definition of national security. As such, we strongly encourage you to include the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration in any CFIUS review of this transaction, and consider designating the Department of Agriculture as one of its lead agencies. Further, any CFIUS review of this transaction should look beyond any direct impact on government agencies and operations to the broader issues of food security, food safety, and biosecurity.”
The letter was signed by: Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), Sen. William Cowan (D-MA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Sen. Mike Johanns (R-NE), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Michael Bennett (D-CO), Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN), Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND). Those 15 senators are not the only ones with food safety concerns.
In March, when the acquisition was announced, Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch said: “In 2011, Shuanghui was embroiled in a food safety scandal for producing and selling pork laced with the banned veterinary drug clenbuterol, which is linked to serious human health risks. Overseas ownership can only complicate and shield potential future food safety problems from U.S. oversight.”