Concern is high because melamine could only come from chicken raised on tainted feed. This chemical substance is normally used in making plastics but is toxic for humans. In fact Hong Kong’s Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said that his agency “will target more on meat imported from the mainland”.
The melamine-tainted eggs in question are produced by Hanwei Poultry Co., a leading egg-exporting company based in Dalian (Liaoning), and a major supplier to Hong Kong, which gets about 60 per cent of its eggs from the mainland. The group also exports eggs to Japan, Russia and Europe.
Now it would appear that cyromazine, a derivative of melamine, is widely used in pesticides and animal feed in China. Absorbed by plants it can end up in raw foods like meat and vegetables. This means that it might already be in the human food chain. The recently found tainted eggs might just be confirmation needed.
Analysts are asking why the authorities have not imposed controls for melamine on the entire food production process, especially after Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said that the government would do “everything possible” to strengthen food safety to meet international standards.
Melamine-tainted milk poisoned more than 53,000 infants, killing at least four.
Yesterday health authorities said that a door-to-door survey revealed that in Beijing alone children in at least 74,000 out of 308,000 families with a child under three were raised on this milk
Hospitals in the capital also found that 3,458 newly-born infants had kidney stones, the main symptom of ingesting melamine.