DeLauro: Merger could threaten U.S. food supply safety

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, whose district includes part of Shelton, is criticizing a federal government decision to allow a Chinese company to take over a large U.S. pork producer.

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has decided to allow China-based Shuanghui International’s purchase of Virginia-based Smithfield Foods to proceed. Smithfield has brands such as Armour and Farmland and is the world’s largest pork producer and processor.

Part of the U.S. Treasury Department, CFIUS reviews transactions that could result in control of an American business by a foreign entity to determine the effect on the national security of the United States.

Economic and public health issues

“I am deeply troubled by the decision to approve this merger and have serious concerns over the negative long-term ramifications of this deal,” said the 12-term Democrat. “Smithfield’s acquisition by Shuanghui raises a host of economic and public health issues, which I raised with regulators during this process.”

DeLauro is a former chairman of the U.S. House subcommittee responsible for funding the federal Agriculture Department.

Safety and security of U.S. food system

DeLauro said he looks forward to “discussing with Treasury officials and other regulators the extent to which they analyzed the impact the acquisition will have on the short- and long-term ability of the United States to protect intellectual property rights, as well as the safety and security of the U.S. food supply system.

“This,” she continued, “is unlikely to be the last time a Chinese firm seeks to make a major purchase in our food and agriculture sector and it is critical that moving forward we look at what must be done to protect American farmers and families.”

DeLauro said legislation “may be necessary to ensure these issues are taken into account in the future and, if so, I will work to make sure that happens.”

‘Should alarm consumers’

In earlier comments, DeLauro said the proposed merger is a cause for concern.

“This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers,” DeLauro said. “We know that Chinese food products have been a threat to public health and that Shuanghui was found to have produced and sold tainted pork.”

A press release from DeLauro’s office described her as a longtime advocate for ensuring America’s food supply is safe and affordable for consumers.

Shelton has two members of Congress

The city of Shelton is divided between the Third District, represented by DeLauro, and the Fourth District, represented by fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Himes.

DeLauro lives in New Haven and was first elected to Congress in 1990.