10/04/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Beijing, after milk, melamine in soy milk, too

Recalls of Chinese products around the world are expanding. The Chinese government admits errors and lack of respect for the rules. The nation's dairy industry is at risk.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - After poisoned powdered milk, there is a new alarm today over soy milk: the authorities of Guangzhou have ordered the recall of the product under the brand name Bingquan, because it could contain traces of melamine. This is another source of concern for Chinese consumers, who in recent weeks have used more soy products because they thought they were immune from the scandal.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government admits that there have been "loopholes in the law" exploited by producers, who "have not observed the norms" of food safety. Chinese industry minister Li Yizhong says that this attitude has contributed to "worsening the extent of the scandal" of contaminated milk, which risks "bringing the national dairy industry to its knees".

In the face of a partial admission of responsibility on the part of Beijing authorities, recalls of Chinese products contaminated with melamine are expanding around the world. Today, the Korean food safety agency said it had found traces of melamine in candy products from giants in the sector, including Nestle and Mars, produced in China and marketed in South Korea. The candies implicated include M&Ms and Snickers bars produced by Mars Korea, and Kit Kat bars marketed by Nestle Korea, in which melamine has been found in concentrations of 2.89 parts per million. This brings to ten the number of products recalled in South Korea, but a new and deeper investigation has been opened by the food safety agency. It will examine the production procedures for 428 foods from China, to evaluate their level of safety.

From Holland comes the news that cookies and candies of the Chinese brand Koala have been withdrawn from the shelves, following similar provisions enacted yesterday. The sale of White Rabbit products has also been banned, even though food safety authorities are trying to dampen the alarm, saying that minimal consumption does not create "problems", and that the products implicated "are found only in the Chinese supermarkets", while they are not present in the major chain stores in Holland.

Finally, there is the island of Malta, where inspectors of the health ministry have ordered the recall of 257 packages of cookies produced in China and containing the chemical substance; Koala and White Rabbit products have also been recalled, believed to have been imported through Holland. The ministry has also ordered a thorough investigation of the Chinese restaurants of the island, which so far have given "negative" results.

The American food and drug administration is seeking to put the general panic into context. According to the FDA, there are no serious dangers connected to the presence of "trace amounts of melamine" in foods (2.5 parts per million), with the exception of "baby food and powdered milk", in which the results can be deadly.

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Those responsible for melamine-contaminated milk risk death penalty
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Growing list of companies implicated in Chinese milk scandal
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China, poisoned milk: death penalty for those who break the law
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