All Chinese Food Imports Containing Dairy Held Up at U.S. Border
The Food and Drug Administration has begun stopping imports of Chinese dairy and dairy-based products from entering the country in an effort to keep out food contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.
Melamine is the chemical at the heart of the Chinese infant formula scandal that has killed at least two infants and sickened more than 50,000. Scraps of melamine, which is used to make plastic and fertilizer, were added to milk as a way of boosting the milk's protein content in order to pass quality tests. The same thing was done with wheat gluten, which was then used to make pet food and sparked a wave of recalls last year after thousands of pets died.
FDA officials, who had been spot checking markets for melamine-tainted foods and recalling select products, said they expanded their import advisory in part because of intelligence from overseas counterparts.
No need to panic and throw out all the food in your house that is made with milk powder, at least not yet.
Under the hold and test policy initiated Thursday, FDA stops products at the border, then requires the importer to test it and prove it doesn't have melamine before allowing it to be distributed
As for the rest of the food chain, when the infant formula scandal broke in China this fall, FDA sent out people to check Asian markets around the country for Chinese-made infant formula and were happy to have found none. They also checked with infant formula makers in the United States who assured them they don't source dairy ingredients from China. Since then, FDA has continued to check markets for products that might contain melamine and some products have been recalled.
FDA officials said they are acting even though they've determined that the chance of adverse health effects from ingesting melamine in finished food products is low.
The kinds of foods that are being held include: cheese, soft candy, cat and dog food, and something called iodinated casein--an additive used to iboost milk-giving in cows. (What pantry is complete without it?)
You can read the full import alert here.
By Annys Shin |
November 13, 2008; 2:22 PM ET
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