NOVEMBER 12, 2008, 7:51 A.M. ET

Hong Kong Officials Find Toxic Chemical in Fish Feed


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HONG KONG -- Hong Kong safety officials found elevated levels of a toxic industrial chemical in fish feed from mainland China, though they said they haven't yet found the substance in fish.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said late Tuesday the fish feed contained 6.6 parts per million of melamine, the chemical at the center of China's tainted-milk scandal. Like many others, Hong Kong's government limits the level of melamine in food products to 2.5 parts per million.

The chemical, used to make plastics and other goods, was added to powdered baby formula and other dairy products and has been blamed for the deaths of at least three infants and the hospitalization of thousands more. Attention has since turned to other types of food. Last month Hong Kong officials found melamine in eggs, leading to concerns about melamine-tainted animal feed and the presence of the chemical in other parts of the food supply.

But the center said tests of fish from four farms that used the feed turned up satisfactory levels. The results are consistent with an earlier study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that animal feed tainted with melamine had limited effect on meat, it said.

The center said the feed came from Fuzhou Haima Feed Co., in China's southeastern Fujian province. Company officials couldn't be reached for comment Wednesday.

Hong Kong safety officials said the city's agricultural and fisheries department told fish farms not to use the feed and will continue tests. Officials said they will also continue to test milks, eggs, meat and other products.

Last year, U.S. Food and Drug Administration officials said they found melamine in Canadian-manufactured fish meal containing what was labeled as wheat gluten imported from China, contributing to tensions between the two sides over food safety. When added to food, melamine can make it seem more protein-rich.

Separately, Hong Kong health officials said Wednesday they were investigating the cases of two four-year-old Hong Kong girls with kidney stones who had consumed melamine-tainted milk products and biscuits. The girls were treated and released, the city's Department of Health said.



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