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Product Quality Scares Hit Milk, Bananas and Hygiene Products
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The Japanese Meiji Dairy Corporation Wednesday ordered a total recall of its Meiji FU baby's milk powder in Shanghai after provincial industrial authorities in Zhejiang detected quality problems in the milk powder. Despite the recall, Meiji has defended its products' quality and safety.

The Zhejiang Province Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said on Monday that the zinc content in the powder was below national standards, and that the iodine content did not match the amount indicated on the package.

The bureau has ordered a halt of retail sales and issued a public safety warning to stop using the milk powder.

The Meiji company said Wednesday all such powder would be removed from shelves in Shanghai, and refunds issued to dissatisfied customers.

"Consumers can ask for a refund in the market where they bought the powder provided they have a receipt," said Yang, an official with the company who stated that the milk powder had no quality problems.

"We entered the Chinese market only after rigorous testing by inspection authorities, we thus know the products to be in strict adherence with Chinese quality standards," she said.

The Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau could not be reached Wednesday for comment while the city's Food and Drug Administration said it was monitoring the situation and welcomed Meiji's prompt action in the matter.

"We have always monitored the milk-powder market, and the general quality of the powder is satisfactory," said an official with the bureau named Du.

Meanwhile, China's Ministry of Health on Wednesday banned a range of German hygiene and skincare products, all made "Bubchen" under the brand, from the Chinese market.

The 16 Bubchen products were all found to have been imported and marketed under licenses that were granted to other products, said a ministry statement, meaning that the products had been operating without the necessary health authority licenses.

Dealers selling these wares were required to halt sales and retrieve those items already sold, read the statement, adding that both the importer and distributor would be prosecuted.

A Chinese website about Bubchen products was launched by Beijing Sensensen Trade Co. Ltd., which claims to be Bubchen's general representative in China. The website mainly contained products for infants and pregnant women.

In the final case, Chinese quarantine officials impounded two tons of dried banana pieces coming from the Philippines as they contained elevated levels of sulfur dioxide.

The levels reached 1,286 milligrams per kilogram, nearly 25 times the limit stipulated in Chinese regulations on food additives, said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ).

The 100 boxes of banana pieces, imported by Aixiu Food Co. Ltd, a Qingdao-based company, were valued at US$13,159. However, after being resealed, the goods would either be destroyed or sent back to their country of origin.

The sulfur dioxide residue formed from the mixture of sodium metabisulfite and potassium metabisulfite, both of which are used as preservative agents in food production.

Eating sulfur dioxide could lead to queasiness and vomiting, and prolonged ingestion can have carcinogenic effects.

China's quarantine sectors have found fault with Filipino food imports 13 times, including excessive cadmium in dried sleeve-fish and octopus pieces, as well as salmonella in frozen whelks, sources with the GAQSIQ said.

The GAQSIQ has informed Philippine authorities to ramp up safety measures on food exports, said the sources.

Philippine quarantine officials recently claimed to have found formaldehyde in China's "White Rabbit" milk candy, but having forwarded no data about this case to GAQSIQ, internal investigations declared the Shanghai-made candy safe.

(Xinhua News Agency, Shanghai Daily August 2, 2007)

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