Bangladesh bans Chinese powdered milk amid health panic

September 22nd, 2008 - 4:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Sep 22 (DPA) Bangladesh imposed a ban on the sale and import of powder milk from China Monday after laboratory tests found presence of toxic chemical melamine in the samples, officials said.The health ministry also warned the people against the use of tainted powdered milk from three major Chinese companies for making sweets and baby food.

A ministry spokesman said legal actions would be taken against the importing firms and local agents of the three Chinese firms - Guangdong Yashili Group, Qingdao Suncare Company and Sanlu Group - identified as selling milk laced with the chemical melamine.

Police went from store to store in Dhaka’s crowded markets seizing the powdered milk which was also being sold as a baby food in fancy tins without the approval of the public health authorities, witnesses said.

The sale of sweetmeat has radically dropped despite the upcoming Islamic festival as consumers avoided powder milk for making dishes for the celebrations.

Bangladesh imports powdered milk worth millions of dollars annually from nine countries including China.

A media report said the contaminated Chinese powdered milk was exported in bulk to Bangladesh and at least four other countries.

“We are now testing all the brands of powdered milk being distributed and sold in the country,” said Azmal Hossain head of the Bangladesh Standards and Testing Institute in Dhaka.

Hossain said the institute was testing samples from 12 foreign dairy companies.

The Chinese brands Yashili 1 and Yashili 2 which were marketed as baby food was tested as containing indutrial chemical melamine and were removed from the shelves of shops.

Industrial chemical additive melamine used in plastics and fertilisers and as a bonding agent was found in a number of baby food formulas in China and atleast four infants have been reported to have died from complications related to intake of the chemical in that country. Thousands of babies are being treated at hospitals for melamine contamination.

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