Friday, September 12, 2008

China Recalls Melamine-Laced Baby Formula Powder

The Chinese government has ordered a recall of 700 tonnes (772 US tons) of Sanlu Bei Bei Infant Powder after one infant who was fed the milk powder died, and 50 others were hospitalized with kidney stones, according to an AP report carried by CBC

The recall is in sharp contrast to Sanlu's earlier protestations of innocence. The company claimed, at first, that a "market pirate" had sold sub-standard milk powder under the Sanlu name. Sanlu is 43% owned by Fonterra Cooperative Group, a New Zealand dairy company. To the best of Fonterra's knowledge, none of the contaminated milk powder was exported from China.

US manufacturers of infant formula do not use imported ingredients in their products. FDA, however, is concerned that some of the contaminated milk powder may be available for sale in Asian ethnic food stores. The agency is working with state health agencies across the country to alert the Asian community to the danger. 

This recall is the first major post-Olympic Games food poisoning scandal to hit China. It has dealt a serious blow to the PRC's attempt to present a new food safety face to the world. The Chinese government has reacted swiftly and strongly to the incident, and has promised "serious punishment" for the guilty party.

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