The Customs and Border Protection agency has reached a deal with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to allow safety inspectors to determine what's being imported before it arrives at U.S. ports.
The two agencies agreed to let CPSC workers to complete safety risk assessments using the Customs office's automated systems in its Import Safety Commercial Targeting and Analysis Center.
"This cooperation between federal partners is making U.S. consumers more safe. By identifying and checking consumer products at our ports, we can reduce the flow of dangerous products into our homes," CPSC Chairman Inez Tenenbaum said in a written statement.
In 2009, there were 465 product recalls nationwide, according to the CPSC's annual report. Because of those recalls, 38 companies paid a total of $9.8 million in penalties -- the largest amount, both in companies and money paid, in the agency's history.
Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Alan Bersin called the agreement "an important first step in strengthening our ability to promote consumer well-being and safety."
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services said federal agencies including the CPSC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have already been working with agencies from other countries on food and product safety issues. Among the proposals is a certification program to ensure products from China meet U.S. safety standards.
According to President Obama's Food Safety Working Group, food from more than 150 countries is imported to the United States through more than 300 ports. That group is working to update the U.S. food safety system.
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