More food safety issues in China

From the International Herald Tribune/New York Times:

A month after large batches of Chinese baby formula were found to contain dangerous levels of mercury, state media outlets reported Monday that the authorities have discovered more shipments of contaminated formula, this time poisoned with a cancer-causing toxin.

Health officials in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou said tests of five different milk products showed excessive amounts of aflatoxin, a carcinogenic substance produced by fungus or mold, according to reports by the China Daily newspaper and the official Chinese news agency Xinhua.

The tainted formula, marketed under the Nanshan Bywise brand, was manufactured by two companies in the Hunan AVA Dairy Industry group. Products in another line, Bright Dairy, were still being tested, the newspaper Global Times reported.

Guangzhou officials ordered retailers to stop selling the products while an investigation was begun. There was no verifiable information about the extent of the contamination or whether any children had fallen ill. And it was not immediately known whether Hunan AVA had been told to destroy, recall or do further testing on its products.

Last month, China’s largest dairy firm, Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group, found elevated levels of mercury in its infant formula and was forced to recall six months’ worth of production. Yili was one of the dairies involved in a 2008 milk scandal over melamine poisoning.

Chinese dairy executives say independent, small-scale farmers who bring their milk to producers are the likely culprits in contaminations.

“Most people don’t understand that dairy farming requires highest scientific approach to the operation,” said Charles Shao, the CEO of Huaxia Dairy Farm, quoted by Xinhua. “If you compare with the American farmers, the average Chinese dairy farmers are at least 50 years behind.”

Read the complete story here.

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