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Chinese authorities expand melamine tests after baby-milk scandal

Latest update : 2008-09-23

China will step up testing of livestock feed as well as powdered milk as its seeks to root out use of melamine, a chemical blamed for killing three babies and sickening thousands who drank tainted milk powder.

China will step up testing of livestock feed as its seeks to root out use of a chemical blamed for killing three babies and sickening thousands who drank tainted milk powder, state media said Thursday.
   
Melamine, a chemical normally used in plastics, was illegally mixed into the milk powder but the increased testing of the livestock feed indicates government concern over a problem in the wider agricultural sector.
   
The nation's top product-quality watchdog on Wednesday gave urgent instructions to its various departments to increase tests for melamine in feed and feed additives, Xinhua news agency said.
   
The circular issued by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, was aimed at "ensuring the safety of feed and feed additives", Xinhua said.
   
It ordered local departments to improve supervision over feed import and export companies, increase sampling rates for melamine tests, and investigate possible use of fake quarantine certificates to dodge inspections.
   
Spot tests for feed exporters in "key regions" were also planned, it said.
   
Melamine is widely used in China to give livestock feed the appearance of higher protein content, past foreign media investigations have found.
   
Last year the chemical hit the headlines when melamine-laced food additives produced in China and later used in pet foods were blamed by US officials for the deaths of dogs and cats across the United States.
   
A recall of several pet-food brands in the United States resulted.
   
But the worst reported use of melamine in China became public last week when it emerged the chemical was being added to baby milk formula.
   
China said Wednesday more than 6,000 babies had fallen ill and three had died from kidney failure after drinking milk powder contaminated with melamine.
   
Authorities have found melamine in the products of 22 dairy companies.
   
Six people have been arrested, five of whom were involved in adding melamine to milk, Xinhua has said.
   
The head of dairy producer Sanlu Group, the first company discovered to have produced tainted milk products, also has been detained, state media said Wednesday.
   
The government on Wednesday announced comprehensive nationwide tests for melamine in all dairy products. It also said it was scrapping a system under which producers could gain exemptions from inspections.
  

Date created : 2008-09-18

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