EU bans imports of Chinese baby food with milk
26 September 2008
BRUSSELS — The EU has announced a total ban on imports of any baby food products from China that contain traces of milk, in response to the widening health scare over tainted Chinese dairy products.
EU headquarters also called Thursday for tighter checks on other Chinese food products, despite a report from food safety experts that found only a limited risk to consumers in Europe.
Tests will be carried out on all imported goods from China containing more than 15 percent of milk powder and random testing will be done on such products already on the EU market, Papadoulaki told reporters.
The measures are due to come into force Friday.
The EU does not import dairy goods from China, but there have been concerns over other products, such as chocolate, candy and cookies that may contain milk products.
Increased controls introduced last week had so far failed to discover any food imports tainted with abnormal levels of the industrial chemical melamine, which has been blamed for sickening 53,000 infants in China and killing four, Papadoulaki said.
“We are taking the measure for a precaution,” she said. “We haven’t detected any contaminated products within the European Union.”
France on Wednesday announced it was going further by banning the sale of all goods containing derivatives of Chinese dairy products.
A report Thursday from EU experts found that even in the worst case scenario, adults in Europe would not exceed tolerable intakes of melamine by eating Chinese products. However if products got into the EU market with levels of contamination similar to the highest levels found in China, there could be a risk to children, the report said.
It said children eating large amounts of the products could in theory exceed the tolerable intake of melamine by more than threefold. However, the agency added that there was no evidence such high levels of contamination were present in Europe.
The EU said it imported from China about 19,500 metric tons (21,500 tons) of confectionary products, such as pastry, cake and biscuits last year, and about 1,250 metric tons (1,380 tons) of chocolate and other food preparations containing cocoa.
British supermarket chain Tesco’s has removed Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies off its shelves as a precaution amid reports that samples of the milk candy in Singapore and New Zealand had tested positive for melamine.
By PAUL AMES
[AP / Expatica]