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Food Safety News

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Chinese Authorities Sieze Tainted Milk

A Chinese state-run news agency reported the seizure of 76 tons of milk tainted with melamine.  Some of the products carried over 550 times the legal limit of this toxin.

Food safety regulations in China were strengthened after a 2008 melamine milk recall that sickened over 300,000 Chinese babies and resulted in six deaths. That recall resulted in 21 convictions and two executions.

Despite attempts to curb melamine adulteration in milk, China has had a number of dairy recalls since that tragic incident, including a February 2010 recall involving over 170 tons of milk.

Chinese authorities are working to ensure the public that they are doing everything in their power to stop the adulteration. “The Chinese government has enormously and effectively responded with new laws and new regulations, and tries to implement this as soon as it can,” Rio Praaning Prawira Adiningrat, secretary general of the Public Advice International Foundation, told the New York Times.

 

Melamine is a chemical used in many plastics and can coatings. It is an attractive adulterant to milk producers in that it makes watered-down, low quality milk appear more nutritious in certain tests.

 

Just last week the United Nations Food Standards Body met to set new guidelines for melamine in certain foods.  The threshold for infant milk formula was set at 1 milligram per

kilogram, the equivalent of the current U.S. limit of 1 part per

million, and the level for other foods as well as pet foods was set at 2.5 kg/mg.

These guidelines are not legally binding but they do provide standards which nations can use to confidently model their own laws.

 

In China, police have traced the milk currently being recalled to Dongyuan Dairy Factory in Qinghai province. The company was not involved in the 2008 recall. The owner and two employees have been arrested. It is unclear whether any consumers have become ill from the product.

 

Just last year strict new laws about melamine in infant formula were passed in China, and the government is still in the process of training their hundreds of dairies to adhere to the new laws as well as officials to enforce them.

© Food Safety News
  • Natalia

    Does anyone know whether or not the contaminated milk (or milk products?)was used in manufacture of pet foods or products which are sold to US/Canadian producers of pet food (I’m thinking at the very least the multi-mineral/vitamin formulas used in pet foods which nowadays always come from China)? This is a very important issue and seems to have dropped below the radar – When I read about these further melamine problems no one ever brings up whether or not the melamine has been tracked, and I do hear quite a few reports (I’m a volunteer in animal rescue) of pets suddenly ill for unknown reasons, even dying…If someone could address this issue I and many others would be grateful.

  • Dog Doctor

    FDA has maintained three import alerts since the pet food issues. This year’s alerts are Import Alert Name:
    “Detention Without Physical Examination of All Milk Products, Milk Derived Ingredients and Finished Food Products Containing Milk from China Due to the Presence of Melamine and/or Melamine Analogs” 99-30 http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_401.html
    Import Alert Name:
    “Detention Without Physical Examination of Food Products Due to the Presence of Melamine and/or Melamine Analogs” 99-31
    http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_361.html
    Import Alert Name:
    “Detention Without Physical Examination of All Vegetable Protein Products From China for Animal or Human Food Use Due to the Presence of Melamine and/or Melamine Analogs” 99-29
    http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cms_ia/importalert_267.html
    This means that products from the countries listed in import alert will not be allowed in the country without testing.

  • Ann Quinn, consumer

    I’m with you, Natalia, despite the Dog Doctor’s citing of
    FDA Import Alerts without physical examination. Doc, I think
    if you look further into the issue, all the possibly melamine
    contaminated products in Chinese vitamins and supplements
    and/or food additives do not necessarily have a dairy or milk base and could be flowing into food processors in this country, just as contaminated wheat gluten and rice gluten did to pet food processors in 2007 resulting in deaths of thousands upon thousands of companion pets still to this day.
    Until food processors and manufacturers safety test all Chinese
    ingredients (or ingredients from anywhere else that depends
    on a protein content valuation that could include melamine)
    with a nonprotein nitrogen test, the possibility of melamine
    food contamination still exists in human food and pet food.
    I believe that’s why FDA reminded drug manufacturers to test
    pharmaceuticals for possible melamine contamination recently.
    See:
    http://www.fda.gov/Food/FoodSafety/FoodContaminantsAdulteration/ChemicalContaminants/Melamine/ucm174165.htm
    and
    http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm176088.htm
    and
    http://www.rdmag.com/News/FeedsAP/2010/03/environment-new-msu-program-targets-worldwide-counterfeiting/
    I’m with Natalia in being afraid the FDA import alert detentions are not getting all the possible melamine products off the US market or out of US food products, pharmaceutical,
    and vitamin/mineral premixes.