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FDA cracks down on Chinese imports

By Sarah Hills , 14-Nov-2008

The FDA has stepped up its import controls for dairy products from China following the melamine scare and extended its investigation into non-dairy protein products.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced the move yesterday as part of its ongoing strategy to address contamination with the industrial chemical melamine of consumer products exported from the People’s Republic of China.

It stated: “FDA has expanded its import controls on Chinese dairy products, and food and feed products manufactured in China that contain dairy ingredients.

“This action will help ensure that only Chinese dairy products and food and feed products manufactured in China that contain dairy ingredients are not contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds reach US consumers”

An FDA import alert has been in place since October 10, 2008, for specific products found contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds.

Now, after collecting additional information on the scope of the melamine contamination problem in China, it said a countrywide import alert is warranted.

This covers all milk products, milk derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk.

It added: “As part of ongoing activities, FDA will also examine a range of protein-containing products beyond just dairy and dairy-containing products for contamination with melamine and melamine-related compounds.”

Safety alert

The move follows the deaths of four infants in China linked to consuming baby milk contaminated with melamine, which can be used to boost the apparent protein content. About 54,000 children were sickened with kidney stones and other renal failure.

Since the problem came to light incidents of melamine-containing foods have swept the globe.

And in October Hong Kong officials said they had found dangerous levels of melamine in a brand of eggs imported from China prompting fears that the chemical has found its way into animal feed.

Among the products that the FDA is currently advising consumers not to consume because of possible melamine contamination are Fresh and Crispy Jacobina Biscuits, Koala’s March Crème filled Cookies, White Rabbit Candies and infant formula manufactured in China.

No adverse health effects have been reported in the US from contamination with melamine of dairy products or dairy containing products, according to the FDA.

However, melamine is not approved for direct addition to human or animal foods and no manufacturer is allowed to deliberately add it to any food for US consumers.

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