Ministry provides hormone technique for milk powder

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The Ministry of Agriculture has given guidelines to central China's Hubei province on the hormone testing technique for its milk powder, so testing can be done to determine if the hormone was added to Syrutra's questionable baby formula, Xinhua reports.

After suspicions that Syrutra's baby formula may have caused sexual precocity in infants, the local Administration for Industry and Commerce is already analyzing samples of the milk powder in question. However, a hormone test was not included in the routine milk quality examination, meaning quality control standards had not been adopted in this category. The relevant government department also stated that hormones are classified as drugs, and should not be added to milk powder.

The Wuhan Office of Food Additive Safety is in charge of the case and an employee from the office said that some of the results have been reported and would be announced to the public soon. The Syrutra baby formula is still available in supermarkets. The provincial Administration for Industry and Commerce announced that it would not remove the products from the shelf until it received official information.

Zhang Yingjiu, the manager of Syrutra's public relations department, told a reporter that the questionable milk powder was all imported from New Zealand and had been approved by China's customs before entering the mainland market. Syrutra also tested the product, so the baby formula is therefore safe for customers, the manager said. In addition, there was no point for the company to add hormones as that would not benefit to products' efficiency, the manager said. Based on that argument, the company will not provide refunds at the moment. On August 6, media reported that baby formula produced by the Qingdao, Shandong province-based Synitra Nutritious Food Company might be the cause of several cases of sexual precocity in infants that had been reported earlier in Hubei province.

The public is highly concerned about the safety of milk available to them and hopes the government can find out the reason behind the reported health problems.

Experts clarified that many things can cause sexual precocity. The absorption of estrogen hormone is one reason that could have nothing to do with the baby formula.

A high-ranking official from the Office of Food Additive Safety of Wuhan said that the hormone was much more likely to have been added in the milk production session, such as un-sanitary pasture environments and artificial feedstuffs, rather than directly into the milk powder.

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