India bans imports of Chinese dairy products

September 25th, 2008 - 8:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) As a fall-out of the tainted baby milk scandal in China that has affected nearly 50,000 children, India has banned all imports of dairy products from China for the next three months.The commerce ministry’s Director General of Foreign Trade issued the notification Tuesday prohibiting the import of Chinese dairy products with immediate effect.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), so far three deaths have been confirmed in China due to contamination of infant formula with melamine, while over 40,000 children have sought medical treatment.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua put the figure at over 53,000 children, who have been left with various urinary tract problems, including kidney stones. About 13,000 infants are still being treated for complications in hospitals.

The toxic chemical melamine, used in pesticides and in manufacturing plastics as a source of nitrogen, was apparently used in baby milk to hoodwink quality controls. The level of nitrogen is often used as a marker for protein content in baby food.

Several countries have already banned imports from China, including Vietnam, Nepal, South Korea and France.

Meanwhile, reports from Brussels state that the European Commission has proposed a ban on any baby food products from China that contain traces of milk.

Singapore and Honk Kong have also reported finding traces of melamine in dairy products manufactured in China.

WHO has said that it was sharing information on the issue with all governments through its International Food Safety Authorities Network.

On Thursday, United Nation’s children’s agency, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) and WHO issued a statement jointly, stating that they “observed with great sadness and concern the unfolding story of tainted infant formula produced by Sanlu and other companies.”

Sanlu is the Chinese dairy group at the centre of the expanding scandal. It had admitted on Sep 12 that some of its baby food products had been found to be laced with melamine.

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