Sun, Nov 02, 2008 - Page 5 News List

China to tighten feed industry supervision

AFP , BEIJING

China has pledged to tighten supervision of the animal feed industry, state media said yesterday, amid signs a toxic chemical found in milk and eggs was being mixed into livestock feed.

“The ministry will tighten its supervision of the feed industry and crack down on producers who add melamine to their products,” the China Daily quoted Wang Zhicai (王智才), head of the Agriculture Ministry’s livestock division, as saying.

Melamine, an industrial chemical normally used to make plastic, was first found to have been added to milk in China, leading to the death of four infants and sickening at least 53,000 other people.

The chemical — which can lead to severe kidney problems if ingested in large amounts — was then discovered in Chinese eggs, leading to concerns the chemical was much more prevalent in China’s food chain than initially believed.

Wang acknowledged that the ministry issued a regulation in June last year banning the addition of melamine into livestock feed, a transcript of the interview on its Web site said.

“Anyone who adds melamine into feed is acting against the law. We must resolutely combat this,” Wang said.

The ministry also introduced a “rigid” standard to test the level of melamine in feed, Wang said, following a scandal over contaminated feed exported to the US that killed hundreds of pets there.

Despite this, experts have indicated melamine could still be mixed into animal feed to make it appear higher in protein, and concerns are mounting that the practice is widespread.

In an editorial published on Friday, the China Daily said it was unclear whether melamine had found its way into other types of food.

“We hope it has not. But if fodder can be confirmed as the source of contamination for both the eggs and milk, action must be taken to check how widespread the use of this chemical is in the fodder industry,” the paper said.

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