10/27/2008, 00.00
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After finding melamine in Chinese eggs, now it is the turn of meat

Hong Kong finds twice the legal limit of melamine in eggs from a Chinese company that also exports to Europe and Japan. Fingers are pointed at the possible use of the substance in animal feeds and pesticides which is then absorbed by the meat and vegetables. The milk scandal widens as health authorities in Beijing discover that one child under the age of three in four was weaned on tainted milk.
Hong Kong (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A new alert has been sounded in China after tests found the level of melamine found in some batches of eggs sold in Hong Kong was 4.7 mg per kg, almost twice the allowed limit. The Territory’s Centre for Food Safety announced new testing on eggs and meats (chicken, beef, pork and fish) imported from the mainland. Meanwhile in Beijing tests show that one infant in four has been weaned on poisoned milk.

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.

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See also
Melamine found in eggs of two more Chinese companies
Chinese authorities ordered cover-up of melamine-contaminated eggs
Mainland fish feed sold in Hong Kong found with high melamine levels
Milk scandal: government reassures, but the rich seek wet nurses for their children
Beijing, after milk, melamine in soy milk, too