Friday, November 14, 2008

FDA finally acts decisively on melamine scare

Months into the melamine crisis, the Food and Drug Administration is finally cracking down on certain categories of Chinese exports.

The FDA announced Thursday it has beefed up its import controls for Chinese dairy products as well as non-dairy proteins. This action follows its last major action when, on Oct. 10, the agency placed an import alert on specific products found to be contaminated with melamine and melamine-related compounds.

Since then, "FDA has collected additional information on the scope of the melamine contamination problem in China," the agency said in a press release, "and determined a countrywide import alert is warranted."

The FDA defines an import alert as "detention without physical examination." The alert has been applied to all milk products, all milk-derived ingredients, and finished food products containing milk. The alert also includes animal feeds: last month, Hong Kong officials reported finding traces of melamine in eggs, possibly as a result of tainted feed fed to chickens.

No reports of injuries as a result of melamine contamination have come to light in the United States, but more than 54,000 infants in China have reportedly suffered kidney and other ailments as a result of consuming contaminated infant formula. Four have died.

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