Food products from China destroyed

 

FOOD PRODUCTS entering Ireland from China that contain the chemical melamine are now being destroyed at Dublin Port following recent powers given to health officials and customs officers.

The new European-wide emergency control legislation was introduced following the melamine-tainted infant formula food scandal uncovered in China last September.

Milk used to manufacture a wide range of products within China had been diluted fraudulently and melamine was added to restore the apparent protein content of the milk.

Melamine was subsequently found in many food products, forcing a wave of recalls in many countries around the world. It was part of a long list of food scandals to hit China and prompted the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to recall Chinese-made sweet products from a number of stores within Ireland, fearing they may contain melamine.

The legislation, which came into effect last October, now requires all food imports from China that contains milk/soya at any level (which can also include chocolate and biscuits) to be detained at Dublin Port and tested. Any product found to contain melamine at a concentration greater than 2.5mg/kg is then destroyed.

Raymond Ellard, a director with the FSAI, said: “The vast majority of products have been allowed to pass through, but a small number of melamine-contaminated products have been destroyed. The testing is an on-going safety measure and as many as 160 products have been tested so far.”

Melamine can cause kidney stones, leading to kidney failure, and infants are particularly vulnerable.

“At least six babies died and more than 290,000 were made ill in China after taking milk contaminated with melamine. Composite feed products are also covered under the new rules to ensure that non-compliant food products are not diverted for animal use. The import and sale of all infant formula food from China is also prohibited.

Last Thursday, a Chinese court condemned two men to death and handed a life term to another former dairy boss for their part in the contaminated milk scandal.

It was also reported on Sunday that Chinese quarantine authorities seized more than 23 tonnes of frozen Irish pork that was found to be contaminated with dioxin and ordered it be returned.

The pork was imported by a company in the city of Suzhou in October. Inspectors sealed the pork and ordered the company to send it back. China had banned the importation of Irish pork last month following the contamination scare.