EU Bans Baby Food With Chinese Milk
The European Union of 27 nations has announced a ban on the importation of baby food containing Chinese milk:
BEIJING – The European Union banned imports of baby food containing Chinese milk on Thursday as tainted dairy products linked to the deaths of four babies turned up in candy and other Chinese-made goods that were quickly pulled from stores worldwide
The 27-nation EU adds to the growing list of countries that have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products. In addition to the ban, the European Commission called for tighter checks on other Chinese food imports.
Chinese baby formula tainted with melamine has been blamed for the deaths of four infants in China and the illnesses of 54,000 babies there. Health experts say ingesting a small amount of the chemical poses no danger, but melamine — used to make plastics and fertilizer — can cause kidney stones and lead to kidney failure. Infants are particularly vulnerable.
All imports of products containing more than 15 percent of milk powder will have to be tested under the new rules due to come into force Friday after talks among the EU’s 27 member nations.
EU food safety experts said they have found only a limited risk in Europe from food imports from China. But the European Commission says it is acting as a precaution in the face of the growing health scare.
White Rabbit candy, China’s most popular candy, has also been found to contain high levels of melamine. A quick check of Amazon.com suggested that the U. S.-based vendors offering it for sale there had withdrawn the product but it’s probably still on the shelves in some Chinese food stores here.
A search of the FDA site for recalls and withdrawals revealed no recalls or warnings on specific products but there was a general advisory about melamine contamination:
On September 12, 2008, in light of reports from China of melamine contaminated infant formula, the FDA issued a Health Information Advisory to proactively reassure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell such products in the United States. That advisory also warned members of Chinese communities in the United States that infant formula manufactured in China, possibly available for purchase at Asian markets, could pose a risk to infants.
The FDA had contacted the companies who manufacture infant formula for distribution in the United States and received, from the companies, information that they are not importing formula or sourcing milk-based materials from China.
At the same time, the FDA—in conjunction with state and local officials—began a nation-wide investigation to check Asian markets for Chinese manufactured infant formula that may have been brought into the United States. In particular, this effort focused on areas of the country with large Chinese communities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. To date, investigators have visited more than 1,000 retail markets and have not found Chinese infant formula present on shelves in these markets.
In addition, the FDA is advising consumers not to purchase infant formula manufactured in China from internet sites or from other sources.
The FDA has taken, and will continue to take, proactive measures to help ensure the safety of the American food supply. In conjunction with state and local officials, the FDA will continue to check Asian markets for food items that are imported from China and that could contain a significant amount of milk or milk proteins. In addition, the FDA has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk, such as candies, desserts, and beverages that could contain these ingredients from Chinese sources. Milk-derived ingredients include whole milk powder, non-fat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder, and casein.
This sampling and testing is done when these ingredients or products are imported into the United States or found during visits to Asian markets. If the products are adulterated because they contain melamine and/or a melamine analog, the FDA will take action to prevent the products from entering the U.S. food supply.
In addition to state and local governments, the FDA is working in close cooperation with Customs and Border Protection within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other federal agencies, and foreign governments.