F.D.A. expands China import alert

by FoodBusinessNews.net Staff
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WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration issued an import alert today that will prevent foods manufactured in China and containing milk or milk-derived ingredients from entering the United States until they have been tested and shown to not be contaminated with melamine. Foods that will be most affected include bakery products, snacks, beverages and chocolates, according to the agency.

Under the directive, F.D.A. inspectors at U.S. ports of entry will detain foods from China made with milk and certain ingredients derived from milk. Importers must pay to have their products tested by an independent laboratory that meets F.D.A. standards. Only products found to be melamine-free will be allowed into the country.

In September, thousands of infants fell ill in China after consuming formula contaminated with melamine. The agency later learned that the melamine contamination was not limited to infant formula.

"F.D.A. analyses have detected melamine and cyanuric acid in a number of products that contain milk or milk-derived ingredients, including candy and beverages," said the agency. "In addition, information received from government sources in a number of countries indicate a wide range and variety of products from a variety of manufacturers have been manufactured using melamine-contaminated milk or milk-derived ingredients …"

Representative Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut took the F.D.A. to task for its delayed response to the problem.

"Clearly, the problems involving melamine in China are significantly deeper than F.D.A. would have us believe," Ms. DeLauro said. "Based on investigative reports, it would appear that melamine trafficking in China shares similar characteristics with the illegal drug trade — underground laboratories, unscrupulous street dealers, and all of it operated by criminal syndicates.

"The F.D.A. should have acted sooner to ban these milk products from entering the country. It is disappointing that the ban did not apply to egg and fish products given that animal feed has been found to be contaminated with melamine."

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