The China Tainted Food Scandal Continues to Expand

According to a recent Associated Press report, “cookies from a major Japanese confectioner and Chinese-made baby cereal and crackers” are now included in the ongoing tainted <"">milk scandal originating out of China.  Taiwan also reported three babies with kidney stones in the first cases likely linked to the scandal.  The AP also reports that the Hong Kong government announced it found traces of melamine in baby cereal and crackers made in mainland China:  Heinz DHA+AA vegetable formula baby cereal and Silang House steamed potato wasabi crackers.  Heinz, which is a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based company, ordered a recall of the baby cereal.

Melamine is used to make plastics, fertilizer, and fire retardants and is known to cause kidney stones and can lead to kidney failure.  Melamine-contaminated powdered milk has been blamed for the illnesses of some 54,000 children and the deaths of four infants.  “I think we will see some more cases, but not the high number like so far,” he said. “I think the recall and more thorough investigation and testing are now starting to eliminate some of these contaminated products from coming out to the public.”

The Chinese government also found melamine levels at 24 times the safety limit in Koala’s March cookies made by Lotte China Foods Company and Pizza Hut suspended supplying cheese powder found to be contaminated by melamine in Pizza Hut’s Taiwan branch.  Three Taiwanese children—two three-year-old girls and a one-year-old boy—who consumed Chinese milk formula were diagnosed with kidney stones. The mother of one of the girls also has kidney stones, said Liu Yi-lien, health chief of Ilan County in eastern Taiwan.  “They have all consumed Chinese milk, but more tests are needed to establish the link to their kidney stones,” Liu said.  Five other children have become ill as a result of using melamine-tainted products in the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau.

Because hundreds of international food companies now have operations in China, melamine-tainted products have recently started appearing in increasing numbers in Chinese-made exports abroad, including candies, yogurt, and rice balls.  Only some types of milk powder and milk have been recalled in mainland China; however, the maker of one of China’s most popular candies said it stopped sales over suspected melamine contamination. White Rabbit-brand creamy candies were pulled from shelves around Asia and in Britain and in South America Surinamese health authorities ordered food markets to stop selling the candies.

The European Union, which is comprised of 27 nations, significantly adds to the growing list of countries that have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products over melamine contamination.  In addition to being responsible for killing four Chinese babies and sickening 54,000 children, three zoo babies developed kidney stones after being nursed with tainted milk powder for over a year and a lion cub and two baby orangutans were sickened after drinking infant formula made by the Sanlu Group Co., said Zhang Xu, a veterinarian with the Hangzhou Zhangxu Animal Hospital.  The European Commission is also calling for additional reviews on other Chinese food imports.

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