Hong Kong Has Found More Tainted Eggs

HONG KONG - Authorities have reported finding more eggs originating in northern China contaminated with melamine.
calendar icon 4 December 2008
clock icon 4 minute read

Hong Kong food safety authorities said on 2 December that for the fourth time in less than two months, they had found a batch of eggs imported from China that were contaminated with illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical blamed for sickening hundreds of thousands of young Chinese children, six fatally, reports International Herald Tribune.

The Hong Kong food safety agency has been conducting random tests for melamine on a variety of foods imported from China since a global recall of Chinese dairy products earlier this fall.

The agency said the tainted eggs were imported from a company based in Jilin Province in northern China and were being sold to bakeries in Hong Kong. The agency asked that the eggs be withdrawn from the market. It said the eggs 4.7 parts per million of melamine, nearly twice the level allowable in food products sold in the US, Hong Kong and China.

Still, Hong Kong authorities said a child would have to eat about 13 eggs in a single day to be strongly affected.

The finding comes a day after Chinese authorities gave a raised its count of the number of affected babies, raising the death toll from four and upping those sickened from 50,000 to 300,000. The stricken babies suffered from kidney stones and other ailments.

The melamine scandal has been a huge embarrassment for Beijing, which late last year had completed a nationwide food safety crackdown that involved closing thousands of illegal food factories and conducting food safety checks on small food producers. The crackdown came after thousands of pets in the United States were sickened after eating melamine-tainted pet food produced with ingredients imported from China.

This year many of China's biggest dairies were accused of selling melamine-tainted products, leading to massive recalls and renewed calls by leaders in Beijing for an overhaul of the country's food safety standards and stricter regulatory enforcement.

In recent months, Chinese dairy goods, animal feed and eggs have all been found to have been tainted by melamine. The government has blamed dishonest farmers and food and feed dealers who are believed to be intentionally using the chemical, which is usually used to make plastics and fertilizers, to falsely raise the protein counts of diluted dairy products.

Last month, the Food and Drug Administration said that imports of a variety of Chinese products that contain milk, including candy, snacks, baker products and pet foods, would be held at the United States border until they are tested for contamination.

The melamine scandals this year have alarmed Chinese consumers, and slowed sales, severely damaging this country's once booming dairy industry. Egg sales have also plummeted, sending egg prices down and leading many farmers to abandon the poultry industry, according to farmers in northern China's Hebei province.

Hong Kong food safety officials told International Herald Tribune that the latest batch of melamine tainted eggs were produced in North China.

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