Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Supermarket group pulls out China milk products - report

MANILA, Philippines – A group of supermarket owners on Monday said it was already pulling out from their shelves all milk products manufactured in China ahead of the investigation results from the Department of Health (DoH).

In a radio report, the Philippine Supermarket Association (PSA) said it has decided to remove its China-made milk products because it just wanted to make sure nobody gets harmed in case the Health department confirms chemical contamination.

The decision came the same day that the Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) ordered the recall of two Chinese milk products made by the Chinese firms Mengniu (Mengniu Dairy Co) and Yili (Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group) from the market.

The recall order was issued by the BFAD, a television report said.

The BFAD chief, director Leticia Gutierrez, also said they were still conducting tests on samples taken from the market.

For customers who had previously bought milk products from them, the PSA said it has already instructed all its member supermarkets to either replace or refund the milk products that would be returned to them.

The supermarket group also encouraged other milk brands to secure new certificated from the government to allay suspicion of contamination on their respective products.

The recent “milk scare" erupted after thousands of Chinese infants reportedly fell ill after consuming milk formulas, believed to contain chemical melamine.

The nitrogen-rich industrial substance is said to be mixed with milk to make the product seem high in protein. Experts however said that the chemical causes kidney problems and ulcer.

The DOH and BFAD are currently working together to examine a number of milk products imported from China and sold in local markets. Authorities will decide whether or not to order a recall after laboratory results are released next week.

The government is already studying the possibility of stopping importation of milk products from China.

In a related development, the same radio report quoted small-time milk vendors as complaining about the effects of the milk scare on their business.

Milk traders lined up along Elcano Street in Manila's Divisoria district said their sales were being adversely affected by rumors of the contamination.

They said that prior to the food scare, they are able to sell at least four sacks of milk by noon. After the rumors about tainted milk started swirling, they are barely able to vend a single sack of milk for the entire day.

The small-time milk traders clarified that their milk products are imported not from China but from New Zealand and the United States.

They added that while a small portion of their milk products are bought to be fed to babies, a bulk of them are used for making ice cream, bread and candies.

Milk giants Mead Johnson and Nestle Philippines have already assured the public their products are free from melamine, saying they import them from New Zealand, Australia, Europe and the United States. - Mark MerueƱas, GMANews.TV

Supermarket group pulls out China milk products - report GMA news.tv