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Sale, import of China milk products banned–BFAD

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Arroyo orders probe

By Joel Guinto, Thea Alberto
Agence France-Presse, INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:46:00 09/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines – President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has ordered an investigation into the controversy surrounding China’s milk products that had been reported to contain a dangerous chemical that has sickened thousands of children in the communist state, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said.

“The instruction of the President is to see to it that this is looked into and investigated and take the necessary steps to prevent the proliferation in our market that might cause injuries to our babies,” Ermita said in an interview Tuesday at the Traders’ Hotel in Manila where he was guest speaker at a forum hosted by the Commission on Human Rights.

Arroyo’s directive came as the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) ordered on the same day an immediate ban on the sale and import of all milk products from China.

Asked about the BFAD directive, Ermita said this did not surprise him as the agency was “within its authority.”

Arroyo is in New York where she is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly.

In its advisory Tuesday, the BFAD said all licensed importers and distributors have been ordered to immediately stop selling until all products have been tested safe for human consumption.

“The Bureau of Food and Drugs has decided and hereby issues this advisory, in the interest of protecting public health and welfare, directing all licensed importers and/or distributors of registered milk products sourced from China to immediately stop from further importing, distributing, selling and offering for sale these products,” according to the advisory signed by Director Leticia Barbara Gutierrez.

The BFAD said that although records did not show registered infant formula having been imported from China, “consumers are advised not to purchase” items that “might have been brought into the country through unauthorized means.”

The Bureau also said a nationwide investigation would be conducted to ensure that the toxic milk was no longer being sold in Philippine markets.

The public is also asked to report any establishment still selling imported milk from China during the ban, the BFAD said.

“What we are telling parents now, especially the mothers, is to avoid buying milk with ‘made in China’ markings,” Gutierrez said.

“There are other brands in the market which they can buy instead,” she said.

Last week, the bureau said the Philippines did not import milk from Sanlu Group, the company originally at the heart of a scandal over melamine-tainted milk which has sickened tens of thousands of children in China.

Two liquid Chinese milk products with the Yili and Mengniu brand have been found on sale in the local market.

Samples have been collected and were now being tested to determine whether they are contaminated with melamine, a chemical normally used in plastics but which, added to milk, could make it appear richer in protein.

The Philippines trade department has said unlabelled milk products being sold openly in many Manila markets might have been smuggled in from China.

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-09-23T08:09:18+00:00UTC09bUTCTue, 23 Sep 2008 08:09:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am09

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