The Chinese government has said it is investigating a food inspection system in which food was inspected and then discarded after being tested for traces of bacteria.
It is the latest twist in a saga that has already stretched from China’s food safety agency to a federal judge and led to two separate food safety hearings.
The Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Monday that it had not received the full report, but it was “aware of a number of concerns” and was looking into it.
“We take the safety of our customers very seriously, and we will take appropriate action,” the statement said.
Under the Food Safety and Inspection Bureau’s (FSIB) “food inspection procedure” for processing food, a person has to fill out a form, sign a form and complete a written statement in order to enter a food facility, which is then inspected and inspected again.
But the FSIB did not identify the facility or say how it was being inspected.
A spokesperson for the FSI, which runs the inspection, said it was not clear how the process was being used.
“[The form] was completed at a facility which was not a food processing facility,” the spokesperson said.
“However, it is our understanding that it was done in an unannounced manner.”
The spokesman said the FSIRB was “actively reviewing the process”.
The FSIB’s Food Safety Advisory Committee, which includes industry and government representatives, is currently reviewing the system.
On Monday, the FSIC had also been investigating the food processing process in a case where a customer complained about its “totally screwed up” inspection procedures, with the FSB later saying it had also opened an investigation.
In a statement, the Chinese government said it would look into the issue “and will take necessary action to fix it”.
In the wake of the Chinese authorities’ investigation, the US Department of Agriculture’s inspector general has also been asked to look into whether food processing plants should be required to undergo the same food safety measures.
This is the first time the US has had an official complaint about the process, which involves food being tested and then left out for weeks in order for the FDA to see if it contains traces of contaminants.
Since 2010, the food safety regulator has been examining the Food Security Act to establish whether or not it has been adequately enforced, and whether the FDA has adequately enforced the law.
FDA spokeswoman Sarah Smith told ABC News: “As the Food Standards Agency has said, the Food Service Act, the regulations for food establishments, and the Food Inspection Act have been amended to ensure that these requirements are fully implemented in the US.”
Ms Smith said the US government “has been working closely with the Food and Safety Administration to develop the required standards”.
A Department of Homeland Security spokesperson said the agency had been working with US food safety authorities on a “thorough, comprehensive and collaborative investigation”.
“We will continue to work with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure we comply with the requirements of the Food Act, as well as other federal laws and regulations,” the spokeswoman said.