China sets limit on melamine use
Four infants have died and more than 6,000 became ill
China’s health ministry has issued official levels of melamine to be allowed in milk and food.
One part of melamine per million parts of infant formula was considered safe, it said.
For liquid milk, milk powder and food that contains more than 15% milk, it set a limit of 2.5 parts per million – the same already set in Hong Kong.
China is trying to end a scandal over contaminated milk that has killed four babies and sickened thousands more.
The industrial chemical melamine was added to raw milk across the country, contaminating milk products of many kinds, leading to bans of Chinese products around the world.
Dairy suppliers have been arrested, accused of adding the chemical to make diluted milk appear more rich in protein.
Other jurisdictions have set their own limits on melamine in foods, with the 2.5 parts per million limit a general standard.
Scientists have suggested that tiny amounts of melamine can leech from packaging or processing techniques into food products.
A Chinese health ministry official, Wang Xuening, acknowledged this could occur, but drew a clear distinction between that and deliberate tainting with melamine.
“For those who add melamine into food products, their legal responsibility will be investigated,” Mr Wang said.
“Melamine is not a food raw material, and it’s also not a food additive. We prohibit people adding it to food items,” he said.
Experts around the world have only recently begun setting limits on the amount of melamine allowable in foods.
This has given rise to some confusion. In Hong Kong, only two of half a dozen Cadbury products taken off the shelves were later found to have dangerous amounts of melamine.
In Taiwan, where the government asked for Nestle products to be withdrawn, the Swiss-based company replied robustly, criticising Taiwan’s limit of melamine as markedly lower than in most other places, well below a general safety standard.
Melamine is used in making plastics and is high in nitrogen, which makes products appear to have a higher protein count.
Health experts say that ingesting small amounts does no harm, but sustained use can cause kidney stones and renal failure, especially among the young.
From BBC News
Breast feeding all the way. Very sorry for all those families who lost their young ones, or whose young ones are ill because of the tainted milk.