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No melamine found in raw milk by nationwide tests, Health Ministry says

12 May 2009 884 views No Comment

BEIJING, May 11 (Xinhua) — No melamine has been found by spot tests of raw milk conducted since last December across the nation, an official with the Health Ministry said on Monday.

    As of April 30, 68 tonnes of illegal food additives and 116.3 tonnes of excessively used food additives have been seized, Su Zhi, deputy director with the ministry’s food safety coordination and supervision bureau, told a press conference held in Beijing.

    The Chinese central government established a special law enforcement group involving nine departments last December for a nationwide campaign to crack down on illegal and abused food additives among food manufacturers.

    The four-month long campaign came after a massive milk scandal was exposed last September in which thousands of Chinese children were sickened by milk tainted with melamine, a chemical that could cheat protein tests and cause kidney stone.

    The Health Ministry also publicized the first blacklist of chemicals, including melamine, which are illegal to be used as food additives. It disclosed the second blacklist in February.

    Su said that more than four million law-enforcement officials had been mobilized in the four-month campaign and 30 suspects had been arrested for using illegal food additives.

    The authorities closed 3,309 unlicensed food makers and revoked87 business licenses of the makers using illegal food additives. Penalty fines totaled 823,000 yuan (about 121,000 U.S. dollars), he said.

    More than 7,620 cases of illegally used food additives throughout the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities had been cracked.

    The official said a third blacklist will be publicized soon since some new substances have been found by investigations initiated by public informants about dangerous food manufacturing.

    Su mentioned a case discovered in Wuhan of central China’s Hubei Province, in which four suspects were arrested for using industrial dye to process pot-stewed ducks.

    In another case in Tianjin, two steamed bread shops even used washing powder to replace baking soda to leaven the bread, according to Su.

    After four-month long special campaign, the authorities will continue a two-year food safety operation to eliminate illegalities in the industry, the official said.

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