MANILA, Philippines – The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) assured on Wednesday, June 20, that the Philippines has not been officially importing milk from China since the melamine scare back in 2008.
FDA Deputy Director Atty. Ronald De Veyra gave the assurance days after the recall of baby formula produced by Yili group, a major dairy firm in China. The baby formula were found to have “unusual” levels of mercury.
De Veyra said no company has been given a “clearance” to bring in China-made milk products since 2008. “Wala na tayong na-issue ng importation clearance,” he said.
He added that even after the ban on milk products from China has been lifted after the melamine scare, no importers applied for registration of milk products from said country.
Warning against smuggled, “re-packed” products
De Veyra, however, did not discount the possibility that China milk products have been smuggled into the Philippines.
“That can still happen. So we have deployed our inspectors to check on the stores. We also call on the public to report to us if they come across China-made milk because there should not be any (in the local markets),” he said.
De Veyra also warned the public against buying and consuming re-packed milk products because they could not be registered with the FDA.
“Avoid products that do not have proper labels or have no labels. Milk can be repacked and sold. We should avoid those,” he said.
Effects of mercury exposure
Fetuses, infants and children exposed to mercury can suffer from impaired neurological development, according to the website of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Exposure to high levels of mercury, in general, can also lead to damages in the liver, kidney and nervous system.
Reports showed that of the 715 milk products examined in China, only the samples from Yili Group were so far found to have “unusual” level of mercury concentration of 0.034mg/Kg and 0.045mg/kg.
Yili is based in the Inner Mongolia City of Hohhot.
In 2008, melamine contamination had killed six babies and had made some 50,000 ill in China.
The melamine scare had gripped other countries including the Philippines which banned imported products coming from Chinese milk factories that have added the substance to the milk products to make them appear to have higher protein content. – Rappler.com
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