In a protective measure, 'Klim' milk powders produced in China by the Switzerland-based Nestle are taken from shelves at a local grocery store in Taipei, Taiwan, Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008. (AP / Wally Santana)
Vietnam finds melamine-tainted products from China
Oct. 3 2008
The Associated Press
HANOI, Vietnam -- Vietnam has discovered the industrial chemical melamine in 18 food products imported from China and three other countries and has ordered them recalled and destroyed, officials said Friday.
Russian news agencies, meanwhile, reported that food inspectors found nearly two tonnes of Chinese dry milk believed to be contaminated with melamine. And Philippines health officials found melamine in two of 30 milk products from China tested for the chemical.
Australian food regulators recalled China-made Kirin Milk Tea after tests in found the drink contained melamine. It is the fourth product withdrawn from the country's stores in the wake of China's tainted milk scandal.
Milk containing melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening more than 54,000 with kidney stones and other illnesses in China. The contamination has sparked global concerns about food products made with Chinese milk or milk powder and recalls in several countries of Chinese-made products.
Chinese authorities believe suppliers trying to boost output diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.
Recent tests in Vietnam found melamine in dairy products and crackers imported from China, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, according to the Ministry of Health's website. It did not list all the brand names that tested positive for melamine, but among them were five different varieties of Yili milk, one of the brands found to be contaminated in China.
"We will intensify our inspections for melamine contamination to ensure the safety of consumers," said Nguyen Thi Khanh Tram, vice director of Vietnam's Food Safety Administration.
Most of the contaminated items were milk and dairy products from China, the ministry said.
However, they also included crackers imported from Malaysia and Indonesia as well as a powdered dairy creamer imported from Thailand. It was not clear whether those products had been produced in those countries or simply shipped to Vietnam from warehouses there.
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque identified the two tainted brands Friday as Mengniu and Yili, which have already been found to be contaminated in tests in China.
Duque said 28 other products, including M&M chocolate candies, powdered milk and yogurt have been cleared for sale and 200 more were being tested. Additional results may be released early next week.
The Philippine government halted imports and sales of Chinese milk products pending inspections last week.
Russia's ITAR-Tass quoted Russia's chief epidemiologist Gennady Onishchenko as saying that two tonnes of dry milk was seized in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, on the Chinese border.
Consumer watchdog Rospotrebnadzor on Tuesday banned all imports of Chinese dairy produce.
Oct. 1 2008
The Associated Press
BEIJING -- China's government says an additional 31 batches of Chinese milk powder were found contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
The contamination has been blamed for the deaths of four children and kidney ailments among 54,000 others.
More than 13,000 children have been hospitalized and 27 people arrested in connection with the tainting.
The new figure, seen on the food safety administration's Web site, brings to at least 100 the number of tested batches of milk powder found to contain melamine.
A previous round of testing, results of which were posted on Sept. 16, found melamine in 69 milk powder batches.
Tests have also found melamine in 24 batches of liquid milk produced by three of the country's best known dairy firms.
It was a national holiday in China and product safety officials could not be reached for comment.
The Web site quoted the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine as saying it had tested 265 batches produced by 154 different companies prior to Sept. 14. China has a total of 290 companies making powdered milk, the administration said.
In the most recent tests, nine of the batches containing melamine were produced by the company at the center of the scandal, Sanlu, a 43 per cent stake of which is owned by New Zealand dairy cooperative Fonterra. No date for the testing was given.
Melamine, which is high in nitrogen, is used to make plastics and fertilizers and experts say some amount of the chemical may be transferred from the environment during food processing. But in China's case, suppliers trying to boost output are believed to have diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests aimed at verifying protein content.
Melamine can cause kidney stones, leading to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.
Levels of melamine discovered in batches tested varied widely, from as much as 6,196 milligrams per kilogram to as little 1.3 milligrams per kilogram. Chinese health officials have said no harm comes from consuming less than 0.63 milligrams per kilogram.
The scandal was worsened by an apparent cover-up by companies involved and the ignoring by safety officials of tips and warnings from parents and doctors. Top Sanlu executives and government officials in the northern city of Shijiazhuang, where the company is based, have been forced to resign.