The Department of Health confirmed yesterday that potentially toxic milk powder imported from China’s Sanlu Group has been sold to 10 distributors in nine cities and counties in Taiwan. There are fears that some of the milk powder may have found its way into processed or packaged foods such as coffee beverages.
The products were imported by Fonterra (ING) Ltd’s Taiwan branch on June 26. The milk powder is believed to contain melamine, a chemical used in plastic utensils, glue and fabrics. Adding melamine can increase the amount of protein contained in the powder.
The department said last night that 25 tonnes of the milk powder, packaged in 1,000 packs each containing 25kg, had been sold to 10 distributors in Taipei, Taoyuan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Hualien, Yunlin and Chiayi counties, as well as Taipei and Taichung cities. Of these, 605 have been distributed.
The department said local authorities were trying to locate 130 packs sold to Royal Fun Food Corp, which then sold them to other companies in Taipei County. A company in Pingtung has already sold the powder to farmers for agricultural purposes, while in Hualien 20 packs have beenused in other products, it said.
Two packs in Yunlin have been sold to a company in Chiayi, where some of the powder has been made into semi-finished products, the department said, adding that the products had been traced and sealed by authorities. Health officials have also traced and sealed 20 packs in Kaohsiung that were sold to a processed food factory in Changhua County and had been used in finished products such as milk coffee beverages.
Almost 400 packs were found at a warehouse in Taoyuan yesterday and were sealed by health officials, who stamped the words “Not for human consumption” on each pack.
“We are concerned that some of the finished products [made from the milk powder] have been sold to consumers,” Health Minister Lin Fang-yue (林芳郁) told a press conference yesterday.
He said local health authorities were still trying to track down the remaining milk powder, adding that “all toxic milk powder will be sealed up and destroyed at a later date.”
Lin said the department had notified the Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection to ensure that the import of Sanlu products be prohibited. Only products that have tested negative for melamine will be allowed in, he said.