China Says Milk Clean, Dairy Scare Spreads Abroad


By Simon Rabinovitch


China tried to repair confidence in its dairy products on Thursday, saying the latest chemical tests had come back clean, as the country's tainted milk scandal reverberated around the world.


The food safety administration instructed stores to display a list of trusted brands after spot checks of 65 companies' milk and yoghurt found no signs of the industrial chemical melamine.


There was no clean bill of health, though, for powdered milk. The food safety watchdog said on Wednesday that 31 more batches had tested positive for melamine, which has been added to milk to cheat in quality tests.


Thousands of children in China have fallen sick and four have died after drinking melamine-laced milk.


The dairy scare, China's latest in a long line of food safety problems, also prompted recalls and warnings abroad on Thursday.


Taiwan health officials ordered stores to remove six types of Nestle dairy products after tests found traces of contamination from China. They said there were no health concerns but that the removals were necessary to reassure consumers.


Nestle officials said their products from China were safe and urged the Taiwan health department to introduce "science-based standards" for melamine tests.


Elsewhere, the Ministry of Food and Agriculture in the German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg confirmed that "White Rabbit" sweets from China sold in a shop in Stuttgart contained traces of melamine but posed no health risks if consumed.


In South Korea, authorities found tiny amounts of melamine in milk products from New Zealand that were used in baby formula and banned their import.


There were also reports that China had promised Japan and other trading partners that it would halt all exports of dairy products until their safety was guaranteed.


Western diplomats could not confirm such a meeting and said China may only have met with neighbouring countries.


Countries around the world have banned Chinese dairy imports, or ordered them to be taken off shelves, as it became clear that yoghurt and other products were also affected.


Scores of foreign companies have been forced to recall products made with Chinese dairy ingredients, or to reassure customers their goods are safe.


China has said the city government in Shijiazhuang, home to the Sanlu Group whose contaminated milk sparked the scare, sat on a report from the company about the tainting for more than a month, while Beijing hosted the Olympic Games.




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