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Panel urges 'smarter' checks on U.S. imports

September 11, 2007|Tina Marie Macias | Times Staff Writer

WASHINGTON — A government-wide task force on the safety of imported products recommended Monday that "smarter" precautions be taken to keep unsafe goods out of the U.S. marketplace.

Government agencies that regulate imports should collaborate to monitor products, develop new technology, and use additional preventive methods in stopping unsafe products from getting to store shelves, the task force said in a report.

"One way to think about this is that our current strategy is really a snapshot at the border," said Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt, who led the 12-agency task force. "We're recommending a change that would create a video, in essence, through the entire process."

Following recalls of tainted pet food, substandard tires and toys with unsafe levels of lead paint, President Bush created the panel in July to ensure that what is for sale has "the confidence of our consumers."

"The recent dangers found in some imported products are warning signs to us . . . that our present system is not keeping pace," Leavitt said. "The American people have reasonable expectations that food and other products that they buy are safe. We can and should do all we can to honor that trust."

Although the task force's recommendations could require additional employees or new programs, the report does not say how those positions would be funded. That will come in a second report due in November.

The U.S. will import more than $2 trillion worth of products this year, a figure that will triple by 2015, Leavitt said.

The full report is available at www.importsafety.gov.

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tina.macias@latimes.com

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