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Melamine in Chinese milk powder found in Bahrah
By Fahd Al-Mutairi
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 08 - 12 - 2008

Bahrah municipality, east of Jeddah, has seized the Nestle Cerelac and Nesvita Pro Bones made in China contaminated with melamine from different stores in the town, officials said.
The products seized have been tested and found “highly contaminated” with melamine, said Anwar Al-Hai, director of Bahra Municipality.
Melamine is an industrial compound used to make plastics found in floor tiles, kitchen countertops and pesticides. However, it is added to watered-down milk because it mimics protein in quality tests. It affects the kidneys and can lead to renal failure and death.
Last week, food inspectors in the Kingdom discovered the potentially dangerous chemical melamine in Chinese-made milk powder distributed by Nestle, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority has said.
Traces of melamine, which has left thousands of children hospitalized in China, were found in tins of Nesvita Pro-Bones milk powder from four different production dates in 2007 and 2008, the authority's website said Tuesday last week.
At least six children have died of kidney failure and 294,000 have fallen ill in China this year after consuming dairy products containing melamine, Beijing said on Monday.
The tainted powder was discovered in a random survey of 52 samples of imported products containing milk powder.
“The SFDA found five samples from all the samples tested ... tainted with melamine,” it said, adding that samples of the Malaysia-manufactured Apollo Chocolate Wafer Cream snack bars also contained melamine.
In a statement, Nestle's headquarters in Switzerland said that products are safe and that the milk powder had already been withdrawn from the Saudi market.
“All Nestle dairy products sold in Saudi Arabia -just as anywhere else in the world - are absolutely safe for consumption. No Nestle product is made from milk adulterated with melamine,” the company said.
It said it had removed its China-made milk powder from the market after the Saudi government requested a precautionary recall on Oct. 18 while tests were being done.
But it said its own tests and those by an independent laboratory had shown melamine levels “were well below the limits defined by a number of governments, including Canada, New Zealand, the European Union, and by international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO).”
At a meeting in Ottawa, Canada Friday sponsored by WHO, international experts said they had set a tolerable daily intake for melamine.
It is not yet possible to set a “safe” level of the chemical, the experts said, but it is possible to say people can eat or drink 0.2 mg per kg (2.2 pounds) of body weight.
Based on this, a 110 pound (50 kg) person could tolerate up to 10 mg of melamine per day.
“We expect this could better guide the authorities in protecting the health of their public,” WHO Director for Food Safety Jorgen Schlundt said in a statement.
The tolerable daily intake of cyanuric acid, a related chemical, is 1.5 mg per kilogram of body weight.
The groups said when both chemicals are in food the effect seems to be more than merely additive.
In November the US Food and Drug Administration found that levels of melamine below 1 part per million, as found in baby formula in the United States, were safe.
Schlundt agreed these levels provided a sufficient margin of safety.

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