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General News of Friday, 23 July 2010

Source: The Herald

Toxic Chinese Milk Under FDB Surveillance

Ghana’s security operatives have alerted authorities in-charge of food safety to be on the lookout for a possible importation of poisonous milk products from China into the country.

This follows an announcement by Chinese food safety authorities of the seizure of over 64 tonnes of the toxic chemical; melamine contained in milk powder, baby foods, candies and other raw dairy products in Northwest Gansu and Quinghai provinces of China.

The products, according to sources, were discovered at the Dongyuan Dairy Factory in Quinghai and Gansu Dairy Company; two leading companies where Ghanaian traders are believed to be getting their wares by way of importation into the country.

Dr. Stephen Opuni, the Chief Executive of Food and Drugs Board (FDB), told The Herald in a short interview that his outfit’s attention has been drawn to the situation, and that his officers have been alerted and they have mounted surveillance.

The Chinese authorities are currently conducting investigations into the matter to prevent the products from entering the market after observing high levels of the chemical over 500 times the maximum acceptable ratio in the products.

Melamine is used to make plastic products and fertilizers. Its high nitrogen content induces protein levels to appear higher when added to milk or animal feed, allowing traders to disguise substandard products, but it can cause kidney stones, urinary tract infections and death if ingested.

It would be recalled that in 2008, the Chinese authorities discovered excessive level of melamine contamination in milk products in 22 dairy companies leading to the death of six babies and infecting over 300,000 infants.

Two businessmen, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping were executed in China over the melamine-tainted milk scandal.

A total of 21 people were sentenced for being involved in the scandal. Two of them were sentenced to death while one received a suspended death sentence that could be later converted to life.

Another three were jailed for life, and the other 15 were given sentences ranging from 5 to 15 years.