As the weeks passed by and the melamine menace created larger ripples, more and more countries had set up various measures to ensure that tainted milk did not reach its shores.
It now appears that far from being contained, further exposes have given way to a sense of alarm whether the various Food Agencies and Health Ministries have done enough. On 25 Nov, The FDA revealed that traces of melamine had been found in USA-produced milk and even went on to name the affected brands (see here). In the face of mounting criticism, the FDA had to revise its guidelines to define what constituted safe levels, bringing the safe levels for infants down to 1 ppm with the proviso that trace levels were safe for infants.
On 2 Dec, China gave an inkling on the magnitude of the problem by releasing, for the first time since 22 Sep (when the news broke), the latest figures of babies affected. A total of 294,000 had been taken ill (initially 53,000); 51,900 required medical treatment ( 13,000 initially) and 6 died (4 initailly).
Today, 3 Dec, Saudi Arabia‘s Food and Drug Authority (www.sfda.gov.sa) announced it had discovered high melamine content in milk powder made by a Nestle plant in China. In addition, the agency also found melamine in a chocolate wafer cream it identified as ‘Apollo’ made by Malaysia-based Apollo Food Industries.(see here). A quick check on the Malaysian Ministry official web-site of lists of melamine-containing foods dated 26 Nov 2008 did not show up this brand at all.
Yet another blow to China is the news that the European Union today banned the import of all products containing soya; a unique move as previously only milk and dairy products were prohibited. Read more here.
Consumers in these countries are beginning to ask not only why such information were not made available earlier, but also whether the list of tainted foods are indeed comprehensive.