Food products withdrawn from sale in Australia
Only the following products have been affected in Australia:
White Rabbit Creamy Candy
Lotte Koala Biscuits
Kirin Milk Tea
Melamine is used in the plastics industry and should not be used in food. There may be trace levels of melamine in foods due to leaching from food-grade contact materials, but these levels are not a health concern. Melamine has allegedly been used in China to make milk appear higher in protein than it really is. Chinese health officials have advised that melamine has been found recently in baby formula and in other Chinese dairy products. The contaminated milk powder may be linked to kidney problems found in Chinese infants and a number of infant deaths.
Australian food safety agencies continue to actively investigate and respond to melamine contamination of some products containing dairy ingredients made in China and elsewhere. Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) is coordinating action among Federal, State and Territory food agencies, including:
* working with importers and food manufacturers in Australia to ascertain if products contain Chinese dairy product as an ingredient possibly contaminated with melamine
* targeted precautionary testing of product on Australian shelves
* monitoring of imports by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS)
* working closely with food regulators around the world including the World Health Organization.
Authorities are testing a targeted range of other products from China containing dairy as a minor ingredient. More than 80 products have been tested so far. Test results to date have not detected the presence of melamine in any of these products, except for White Rabbit lollies and Kirin Milk Tea. As well, some industry associations are alerting regulatory bodies to information from their members on the sources of ingredients they use. The Confectionery Manufacturers of Australasia has published a list of products and manufacturers which have stated their products do not use Chinese dairy ingredients contaminated with melamine: see the confectionery list at http://www.candy.net.au/consumer-information.asp?pgID=644
AQIS has confirmed that Australia has not imported milk products containing dairy as a major ingredient (more than 10%) from China this year. These products containing more than 10% dairy ingredients must have an import permit (with a few minor exceptions) before they can enter Australia.
Infant formula products in Australia are produced under strict standards to ensure their safety and nutritional value and can be used normally. Australia does not import infant formula products from China due to quarantine restrictions. This has been confirmed by AQIS. Food regulators have conducted targeted inspections at wholesale and retail level and have found none of the Chinese infant formula product on shelves.
Consumers who have travelled to China and purchased formula or other dairy products when travelling for personal use should not consume those products. See the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/zw-cgi/view/TravelBulletins/Contaminated_dairy_products
Melamine contamination of fruit and vegetables grown in China
International media reports have raised concerns about melamine contamination of fruit and vegetables grown in China that have been exported to the world. Australia imports some vegetables from China so FSANZ is taking this seriously. At this stage we can find no evidence that fruit and vegetable imports are unsafe but it's certainly something we're looking at. If it is confirmed that fruit and vegetables contaminated by melamine are coming into Australia, we will alert the States and Territories and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and appropriate action will be taken.
Kirin Milk Tea
Consumers should not consume Kirin Milk Tea. Consumers should return the product to the place of purchase for a full refund.
Foods containing small amounts of dairy
It is unlikely that there would be a problem if melamine is consumed in small amounts either from foods with dairy as a minor ingredient and/or where the food is consumed now and then in small amounts.
If consumed in higher quantities over a long period melamine may, in some individuals, cause health problems such as kidney stones or kidney disease. Infants in China were particularly affected as they were consuming significant amounts of contaminated milk formula on a daily basis. Symptoms of kidney problems include blood in urine, little or no urine, signs of kidney infection, pain and high blood pressure. There have been no reported cases of illness in Australia.
* Advice to General Practitioners http://www.racgp.org.au/fridayfax/27434
* WHO guide on Melamine: see http://www.who.int/foodsafety/fs_management/infosan_events/en/index3.html
People with specific concerns should see their medical doctor.
Maximum melamine levels in food
In summary, FSANZ has concluded that:
* A maximum level of 1 mg/kg for melamine in infant formula is considered appropriate.
* A maximum level of 2.5 mg/kg for melamine in dairy-based foods and foods containing dairy-based ingredients is appropriate and acceptable.
* A level of melamine above 2.5 mg/kg of food is indicative of food adulteration.
* For infant formula, even at relatively low levels of adulteration an infant will quickly exceed the Tolerable Daily Intake for melamine, if consuming formula only.
* Foods with low levels of dairy based ingredients, such as candies and biscuits, are likely to be infrequently consumed and in small amounts so they are not considered to be a high-risk food for potential dietary exposure to melamine even if the dairy ingredient has been adulterated.