Although no trace of infant formula from China
has turned up in this country, U.S.
authorities said Friday they are taking added precautions to keep out tainted
The Food and Drug Administration has widened its inspections
at ports of entry to focus on shipments of bulk food ingredients from Asia that are derived from milk, such as milk concentrate
and whole milk powder. Spokeswoman Judy Leon also said the agency will issue an
alert this weekend warning consumers not to buy milk products from China
on the Internet.
The latest food safety scandal in China began with infant formula,
but it now turns out that products ranging from bottled milk to yogurt also
appear to have been adulterated with melamine, a chemical that in lab tests can
make watered-down milk seem protein-rich. More than 6,000 Chinese children have
taken ill with kidney problems after being fed contaminated formula,
and at least four have died.
Melamine, which is used to make plastics, is the same
chemical involved in last year's massive pet food recall. In that case, it had
been added to bulk pet food ingredients imported from China. But an ongoing national
investigation focusing on Asian community markets has turned up no infant
formula from China
"In conjunction with state and local authorities, we
have inspected more than 1,000 retail outlets and have found not one single can
of Chinese infant formula," said Leon.
Nonetheless, the agency plans to issue an advisory Saturday
warning consumers not to buy milk products from China on the Internet. "We
know it's possible to purchase Chinese products on the Internet, and we want to
make sure people do not purchase infant formula or any product containing milk
or milk derivatives," said Leon.
Infant formula is closely regulated here, and no Chinese
companies have approval to export to the United States. China is an importer of milk, and so it's also
unlikely that any milk products from China would turn up in this
said the FDA is sampling bulk shipments of milk-derived products from Asia for possible contamination with melamine or other
banned ingredients. The products being tested include whole milk powder, whey
powder, milk concentrate, lactose, casein protein, and other milk derivatives.