Riyadh (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Melamine has been found in “high concentrations harmful to health” in Nesvita milk powder produced by Swiss multinational Nestle, Saudi Food and Drug Authority (SFDA) said in a statement on its website.
The SFDA said the product in question was a 400-gramme pack of Nesvita pro-Bones produced on 6 May 2008 by a plant in China. It did not indicate how much melamine the product contained but warned that no one of any age should consume it.
Saudi Arabia’s food safety agency said it had also found melamine concentrations harmful to children in three other batches of the same brand made on 19 November 2007 and 25 February 2008. It also said that melamine was detected in a chocolate wafer cream it identified as ‘Apollo’ made by Malaysia-based ApolloFood Industries.
Melamine is an industrial compound used in manufacturing plastics but is toxic to humans. Because it has a molecule similar to proteins it has been used to make products appear richer in protein than they actually are.
In China high levels of the compound have been found in products made by important dairy companies.
After the scandal broke in September some 300,000 infants were found with kidney ailments and at least six have died after they consumed tainted milk.
Other products like milk chocolate and yoghurt were also found to be contaminated.
Nestle was not immediately available for comment, but in an 23 October statement it said that its products are safe and that it buys milk directly from farmers, checks at the farm to ensure its safety before containers are sealed and taken to its factory.
However, quality inspection authorities in Zhejiang Province found in May 2005 that a type of milk powder produced by Nestle contained too much iodine.
Beijing has said that it has instituted tighter controls and ordered contaminated brand products made before September 2008 pulled off the shelves.
The nation’s two dairies most affected by the scandal, Inner Mongolia Mengniu Dairy (Group) Co and Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co, announced that they spent more than 100 million yuan (US$ 13 million) each to install equipment to detect melamine.