A story listed on Bloomberg indicates that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is planning to deploy up to 15 inspectors in three major cities in China, namely Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou.  This deployment serves as post reaction to the numerous food safety and quality incidents that have been sourced to China.  U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt indicated the following in an interview- “I don’t think they’ve (China) got the problem completely solved, but it was clear to them that the made-in-China brand was affected by product quality problems and they moved aggressively to begin making progress.

Supply Chain Matters has provided multiple posts highlighting recent food and drug safety incidents where supply chain sourcing originated in China.  In May, in an update on product recall issues related to the life saving drug Heparin, I pointed out that regulatory agencies are ill equipped to keep up with the pace of current outsourcing within these supply chains, and risk mitigation must stem from internal and external controls. In June, I commented on the continuing tide of counterfeit medicines, and the need for food and pharmaceutical manufacturers to identify supply chain risk as a key business initiative.

While deployment of FDA inspectors is a positive step toward addressing concerns, 15 inspectors can hardly keep track of all of the present export volumes.  The responsibility for product quality and safety must always remain with manufacturers and brand owners, and processes that identify, track, and foster collaboration among extended value-chain participates is the more important announcement to anticipate.

Bob Ferrari