11/13/2008, 00.00
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Mainland fish feed sold in Hong Kong found with high melamine levels

Popular Chinese anti-haemorrhoids drug is banned after more than 30 people suffer liver and other problems. Cause remains unclear. Hong Kong is also set to test pig and chicken feed.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said unsafe levels of melamine have been found in mainland-made fish feed used at a farm in the Autonomous Region. Across in mainland China a nationwide recall was issued for a drug used in treating haemorrhoids with serious side effects.

China’s the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) ordered Zhixue haemorrhoids treatment capsules made by Vital Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd off the shelves for causing “liver problems” in 21 people across the country; another 14 reported other problems.

On its website the SFDA said that an “obvious connection can be found between the haemorrhoid medicine and the liver damage after case analysis, but the cause of the adverse reactions remains unknown.” Zhixue capsules’ maker has suspended production.

The news is raising concerns though. China's pharmaceutical industry is highly lucrative but poorly regulated, resulting in some companies using fake or substandard ingredients.

Meanwhile in Hong Kong animal feeds have again come under scrutiny. The local Centre for Food Safety announced that melamine-tainted fish feed will probably not pose any health threat for people because fish is not likely to have significant amount of melamine, but to be on the safe side it issued orders to test pig and chicken feed for melamine.

Used in plastic making melamine is toxic for humans; traces have been found in mainland powdered milk and eggs made sold in Hong Kong.

On the mainland 53,000 children have suffered kidney problems as a result of the substance and at least four have died from consuming tainted milk.

At least 1,272 infants are still in hosptial for kidney problems caused by melamine-tainted milk, two of whom in serious condition.

Sanlu, the mainland dairy giant at the centre of the melamine milk crisis, has returned its products to store shelves after a two-month halt for quality assessments and the destruction of tainted stock.

A company official said the company was confident of winning customers back, but it is not clear whether it will compensate victims for what they had to endure.

Although beijing has moved aggressively to ensure food safety, it is still difficult to know how melamine-tainted milk (pictured) is being disposed.

Earlier this month a waste disposal company in Guangzhou’s Baiyun district spilled six million tonnes of milk in a local river. Residents protested and the city’s Environmental Protection Bureau imposed a fine of 200,000 yuan (US$ 29,000).

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See also
Milk scandal: government fears social protests, threatens lawyers
Melamine-tainted milk: more deaths and sick than official data show
Courts blocking lawsuits in melamine-tainted milk scandal
Milk scandal: government reassures, but the rich seek wet nurses for their children
Poisoned milk: Wen Jiabao orders inspections of all dairy products and animals


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