China Moves To Save Face In The Milk Scandal
The People's Republic has instituted a standard for allowable melamine in milk and milk products. Prior to this latest case of poisonous products, there were no standards at all for presence of melamine. While some melamine may leach into food products from the environment, no more than one part per million may be acquired this way.
BEIJING (AP) — China has adopted its first rules governing allowable levels of an industrial chemical at the center of the tainted milk scandal, as it tries to assuage a growing number of countries that are banning its imports.
The government has been struggling to deal with festering health and public relations issues since the crisis erupted last month. China's food exports have increasingly suffered, with more nations issuing import bans.
The melamine contamination has been blamed in the deaths of four babies and for sickening more than 54,000 children.
Dairy suppliers have been accused of adding melamine to watered-down milk to make the product appear rich in protein and fool quality control tests. There had been no previous standards.
Under guidelines adopted Wednesday, melamine limits considered safe are set at one part per million for infant formula and 2.5 parts per million for liquid milk, milk powder and food products that contain more than 15 percent milk.
"If the amount exceeds one (part per million), we have reasons to believe it was intentionally added," Chen said. "If the amount is below one, it's very likely that it is because it existed in the environment."
Levels of melamine discovered in batches of milk powder recently registered as much as 6,196 parts per million.
China's Cabinet has acknowledged that the country's dairy industry was "chaotic" and suffered from a grave lack of oversight. It has pledged to monitor milk products from dairies to store shelves.
Even before the uproar over contaminated milk, China's manufacturing industry had been under intense scrutiny after melamine and other industrial toxins were found last year in exports ranging from toothpaste to a pet food ingredient.