Wed, Feb 11, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Wei Chuan formula safe: DOH

A FALSE ALARMThe Yunlin County health department said on Monday that six samples of baby formula had all tested negative for the ‘E. sakazakii’ bacterium

By Shelley Huang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Following a week-long investigation, health department officials yesterday announced that powdered infant formula produced by Wei Chuan Corp (味全食品) was not contaminated with Enterobacter sakazakii bacteria and that the product was safe for consumption.

Last week, Chinese media reported that infant formula produced by Yunlin County-based Wei Chuan had been destroyed after testing positive for E. sakazakii during inspections by Chinese customs officials.

INSPECTIONS

Although the allegedly tainted products were not being sold in Taiwan, the DOH dispatched health officials to the company’s factories in Yunlin County to investigate the matter and determine at which point in the production or distribution process the problem may have occurred.

The Yunlin County health department announced on Monday that inspections confirmed the formula did not contain E. sakazakii.

“All six tested samples — which include three types of powdered formula and their raw materials — tested negative for E. sakazakii,” DOH spokesman Wang Je-chau (王哲超) said.

E. Sakazakii is a bacterium that can cause meningitis in newborns, as well as necrotizing enterocolitis, or tissue death, in the digestive system.

Infections have been linked to infant formula, with a mortality rate of 50 percent.

CODEX

The Codex Alimentarius Commission, a food safety committee created by the WHO, announced last year it would include limiting E. sakazakii in powdered infant formula in its Codex criteria.

“The DOH has decided to include E. sakazakii as one of the inspection criteria in evaluating infant formula,” Wang said.

Routine tests for E. sakazakii could begin in April.

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