House Energy and Commerce leaders from the Health and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittees sent a letter to the President and Chief Executive Office of Smithfield Foods, Inc., C. Larry Pope, on July 24th, requesting information regarding the pending acquisition of the company by Shuanghui International Holdings, Ltd., with questions spurred by the committee’s ongoing heparin contamination investigation, which dates back to 2008.
The pending acquisition of Smithfield Foods raises new concerns regarding the supply of heparin in both the United States and China and the potential threat of contamination.
The committee leaders write, “The contamination of the U.S. heparin supply has been linked by the FDA and other authorities to intentional adulteration during the manufacture of heparin in China. The committee’s investigation indicates that the U.S. heparin supply is stressed, and could well be in shortage. China’s heparin market is experiencing its own pressures, and Smithfield Foods under Shuanghui control may be pressured to export its crude heparin product to China instead of supplying U.S. companies. The impact of this pending acquisition on the availability of U.S. heparin is critical. Heparin is still widely used for heart surgery and dialysis patients.
The members concluded, “We are further troubled by the linkage of Shuanghui International Holdings to the clenbuterol scandal clenbuterol was found after 18 outbreaks of food-related clenbuterol poisoning during 1998-2007, and after the Chinese Agriculture Department banned the use of clenbuterol in 1997. The fact that the business practices under Shuanghui International control led to such contamination heightens our concerns of how Smithfield Foods will be able to maintain the safety of its heparin products should distribution of crude heparin be maintained in the U.S.”
The committee leaders are seeking responses to the questions raised in the letter by August 7, 2013.
Source: Energy & Commerce Committee