Wed, Sep 24, 2008 - Page 1 News List

More materials tainted with melamine

CRISIS Officials said that it will confiscate and destroy contaminated raw materials and that it has instructed local health authorities to track down all tainted products

By Shelley Huang and Jerry Lin  /  STAFF REPORTERS

Inspectors from the Taipei City Government Department of Health yesterday test samples of milk powder, corn flour and other bread ingredients at the bakery of an RT-Mart hypermarket in Neihu District.

PHOTO: CHANG CHIA-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

Five raw materials tested positive for melamime, the Department of Health (DOH) announced last night, adding that it was still in the middle of tracking down products that were made from tainted materials.

Of the five tainted raw materials, four were powdered non-dairy creamers while one was a malt extract. The five, a total of 165.3 tonnes, were among the seven sent by five Taiwanese companies that imported non-dairy creamers from China’s Zhongshi Duqing (Shandong) Biotech Co for test for melamime, the DOH said. The two others tested negative, it added.

This Chinese company is the same one that supplied King Car Industrial Co (金車) with tainted non-dairy creamer in December.

On Sunday, King Car asked stores to pull eight of its products from store shelves after they tested positive for melamine.

The DOH is still unsure of the reason why malt extract would be affected as well.

The DOH said it will confiscate and destroy contaminated raw materials and that it has instructed local health authorities to track down all tainted products that might have found their way into a variety of food products such as instant coffee, instant soup, oatmeal and chocolate.

The DOH said the number of products that needed to be recalled “is a very large number,” with an estimated value of NT$1 billion.

“We hope the entire market can start anew,” Deputy Health Minister Sung Yen-jen (宋晏仁) told a press conference last night.

Companies must voluntarily pull questionable products off the shelves, and if any products are found to be contaminated, the companies will be fined, he added.

If companies fail to pull products off shelves that later tested positive for melamime, the companies could be fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000, said the DOH.

Also late last night, the Cabinet announced that it will pull products containing plant protein imported from China until they are proven safe.

The decision was made at an emergent meeting called by Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄) last night, said Executive Yuan Spokeswoman Vanessa Shih (史亞平).

Liu assigned Department of Health Minister Lin Fang-yue (林芳郁) to head a cross-department task force to deal with the impact of the contamination incident.

Shih said the government will cover the expenses needed for the examination.

Businesses that refuse to send their products for examination will have their names published online and will be punished by the government, she added.

The Department of Health yesterday said that anyone experiencing physical discomfort or who has health concerns after consuming dairy products can receive a physical examination free of charge.

The examinations are available at 24 hospitals nationwide for six months from today.

“[The hospitals] have set up special outpatient services for kidney stone examinations,” said Lin Shoei-loong (林水龍), chairman of the North Regional Alliance of DOH Hospitals and superintendent of Taipei Hospital.

Examinations will include urine analysis. Children will also undergo creatine and calcium tests.

Anyone believed to have kidney stones can then request an ultrasound.

Meanwhile, tests of products from all 18 companies that have imported dairy products from China since Jan. 1 were negative for melamine. The DOH has permitted the companies to resume sales.

RT-Mart (大潤發), the second-largest hypermarket chain in Taiwan, said yesterday it would have all of its dairy and bakery products tested amid growing concern that one of its suppliers may have used tainted milk powder.

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