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FDA froze 60-tonne milk powder shipment from China

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confiscated 60 tonnes of milk powder imported by Dutch Mill and will study it for melamine contamination, a top health official said yesterday.

Satis Tresatayawed, director of the FDA's Import and Export Inspection Division, said the agency had been informed of the 60tonne import and that it was sending samples of the milk powder to the Medical Science Department for tests. If the powder is found to be contaminated, the FDA will reject the import permit for this shipment.

Dutch Mill has had to import milk powder from China for three years now, because drought caused supplies from New Zealand to dry up, Satis said.

The move follows reports from China that at least 22 dairy manufacturers were found to be using melamine in their products. More than 54,000 infants and children are suffering from urinary problems caused by the consumption of melaminetainted milk, which can potentially cause renal failure.

Earlier, the FDA found melamine in the 20 tonnes of milk powder Dutch Mill had imported from China. However, the company's managing director, Thirayuth Chaisawangwong, said they would keep the 20 tonnes in storage until the FDA confirms the product's quality.

Besides distributing milk products within Thailand, Dutch Mill also exports to Bangladesh, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam

In a separate random test on 97 milk and milkbased products, the FDA yesterday revealed that only 32 items had tested negative, while two contained very low levels of melamine and were therefore safe for consumption. FDA chief Dr Chatree Banchuen explained that the two items only contained 0.38 and 0.55 milligrams of melamine per kilogram respectively, well below the 1mg international safety standard.

The 34 products deemed safe are milk powder, pasteurised milk, lowfat and skimmed milk, flavoured pasteurised milk, yoghurt, wafer, nougat, milk chocolate, candy and ice cream.

These products are manufactured or distributed by Dutch Mill, Unilever, Diethelm, Mars Thailand, SinoPacific Trading and an unnamed company located on VibhavadeeRangsit Road.

Meanwhile, Kraft Foods Asia Pacific Service's general manager, Jiri Hejl, has confirmed that all Kraft products are free of melamine and safe for consumption.

Deputy Public Health Minister Wicharn Meenchainant said Thailand mostly imported milk powder from Australia, New Zealand and Europe to use as raw materials for milkbased products, which were all safe. FDA is planning to issue regulations that allow no more than 1mg per kilogram of melamine in milk powder and no more than 2.5mg of melamine in milkbased products. Anybody caught abusing the law would face six months to two years in jail and be fined Bt5,000 to Bt20,000.

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