Senate panel to probe Smithfield Foods purchase

The sale has concerned legislators on both sides of the aisle, who want regulators at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and other agencies to make sure that the company is held to a high standard of food safety.

In a letter to the USDA, Treasury Department, U.S. Trade Representative and Department of Justice on Thursday, Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) expressed concerns that imports of Chinese pork "would raise a host of food safety concerns as China’s food safety system remains wholly inadequate leading to unsafe exported food products."

In 2011, Shuanghui was found to have produced pork laced with a hazardous drug that makes meat leaner but also poses risks to human health.

Warren and DeLauro also worried that the sale threatens American intellectual property.

"Rather than open its market to U.S. food products, China’s policy is to attain self-sufficiency in its food supply while maintaining food processing and production in China," they wrote. "China is seeking to do this in the same way that it conducts business in other sectors, purchasing a foreign company to obtain its knowledge and technology to then build its own competing product."

Last week, 15 senators, including Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann StabenowThe Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign Democrats to Trump: Ask Forest Service before shrinking monuments MORE (D-Mich.) and Thad CochranWilliam (Thad) Thad CochranObstruction of justice watch: Trump attacks the FBI America isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash The Hill's Whip List: Where Republicans stand on Senate tax bill MORE (Miss.), the chairwoman and top Republican on the Senate Agriculture Committee, asked Treasury Secretary Jack LewJacob (Jack) Joseph LewSenator demands answers from DOJ on Russia bribery probe Koskinen's role in the ObamaCare bailout another reason Trump must terminate him The debt limit is the nation's appendix — get rid of it MORE to allow the USDA and Food and Drug Administration to review the sale. 

Lew is the chairman of the interagency Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, which evaluates foreign purchases of American companies to determine whether they post a threat to national security.

Smithfield is the largest pork producer in the world.

Larry Pope, Smithfield's chief executive, will testify before the committee, as will other witnesses who have yet to be announced.