Regulators investigate China imports for melamine

By Ahmed ElAmin

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food European union Us

EU regulators are investigating whether the banned chemical
melamine has made its way into Europe's food and feed supply chain
from China.

The investigation should put EU processors on guard against potential contamination from ingredients sourced from China, which now finds itself in the spotlight over its food safety practices. The regulators are responding to a request from the European Commission, made after the US Department of Agriculture reported last week that the contaminant had been found in pet food fed to hogs and chickens meant for human consumption. Hundreds of dogs and cats either died or suffered health problems as a result of consuming the pet food. The scare widened in the US after it was found to have entered the human food chain after pet food scrap was used as a feed supplement at a number of hog and chicken farms. The discovery led to the quarantine of hundreds of hogs and about 3m chickens in the US so that inspectors could check them for health problems. US regulators have since said that the risk to human health is low and that the animals can now be slaughtered for consumption. Now regulators on this side of the Atlantic are keeping an eye out for the chemical to prevent similar food safety problems from happening here. Melamine is an industrial chemical found in plastics. The US found that the chemical had been fraudulently added to wheat gluten and rice protein from China. The country has now banned its exporters from using the chemical as an additive to boost protein levels in feeds. No evidence has turned up so far to indicate that it was ever used in ingredients meant for human consumption. In the UK the Food Standards Agency (FSA) said it is responding the the Commission's request by co-ordinating a programme to monitor imports that will help ensure that products comply with the EU's feed and food law. The FSA said it is also advising the feed and food industry to make the appropriate checks of their imported ingredients. The regulator noted that UK trade statistics indicate that only a small number of products entering the country is "low". In the US, the FDA last week issued an import alert guidance, which singled out a number of wheat, rice, corn, soy and mung bean imports from China for regulatory attention. The alert gave border control authorities the power to detain imports without first having to inspect them. Any increase in detention could mean some processors will find their ingredient imports are not available when they need them.

Related topics Regulation

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