China: New tests show melamine-free milk

October 5, 2008 2:48:45 PM PDT
China's food safety watchdog said Sunday no traces of the industrial chemical melamine were found in new tests of milk powder sold domestically, as officials sought to restore public trust in milk supplies.The tests of 129 batches of baby milk powder and 212 batches of other kinds of milk powder showed they were free from melamine contamination, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said on its Web site.

Milk powder containing melamine has been blamed for killing four babies and sickening more than 54,000 infants with kidney stones and other illnesses in China.

The latest tests were on baby formula and other kinds of milk powder produced after Sept. 14, when the scandal broke, the watchdog said. Quality supervisors have been stationed in baby milk powder production facilities to oversee the process.

The scandal has sparked global concern about Chinese food imports and recalls in several countries of Chinese-made products including milk powders, cookies and candies.

Hong Kong's food safety agency said Sunday that samples of two chocolate products made by British candy maker Cadbury at its Beijing factory contained considerably more melamine than the city's legal limit of 2.5 parts per million.

The two items were among 11 Chinese-made products that have already been recalled by Cadbury in parts of Asia and the Pacific.

Hong Kong's Center for Food Safety said Cadbury's Dairy Milk Hazelnut Chocolate Bulk Pack contained 56 parts per million of melamine, while Dairy Milk Cookies Chocolate contained 6.9 parts per million.

Calls to Cadbury offices in London and Asia Pacific went unanswered Sunday.

China's government has been struggling to contain public dismay over widespread contamination of milk supplies, castigating local officials for negligence while promising to keep stores supplied with clean milk.

Chinese authorities believe suppliers trying to boost output diluted their milk, adding melamine because its nitrogen content can fool tests measuring protein content.

The Agriculture Ministry, meanwhile, said it is providing subsidies to Chinese dairy farmers badly hit by declining demand for milk. Many farmers have been tossing out raw milk as they are squeezed by feed costs they can't recoup due to waning demand.

The ministry's statement did not give details of the subsidy plan.