By Benjamin Goad - 05/29/13 06:54 PM EDT
Shuanghui International’s blockbuster acquisition of Smithfield Foods raises major concerns over food safety, Rep. Rosa DeLauro said Wednesday, pointing to the Chinese company's troubled history.
"This potential merger raises real food safety concerns that should alarm consumers,” the Connecticut Democrat said in a written statement. “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.”
DeLauro’s reference was to 2011 revelations that Shuanghui products contained a hazardous and banned chemical used to make meat leaner. The case was just one part of an ongoing scandal involving tainted or fake Chinese meat.
Shuanghui, one of China’s largest meat producers, has reportedly agreed to pay $4.7 billion to acquire Smithfield, the world's largest pork processor and hog producer. The Smithfield, Va.-based company dates back to 1936.
DeLauro, a former chairwoman of the subcommittee responsible for funding the Agriculture Department, said the deal, if allowed to go through, would make it more difficult for U.S. regulators to protect the food supply.
“I have deep doubts about whether this merger best serves American consumers and urge federal regulators to put their concerns first,” she said. “I will be in touch with regulators throughout this process to ensure the public health and safety of the American public is safeguarded."
Smithfield did not immediately comment Wednesday afternoon.