Mildewed Feed Caused Tainted Mengniu Milk, Regulator Says

Tainted Mengniu Products Caused by Mildewed Feed
A file photo from 2009 shows cartons of China Mengniu Dairy Co. milk in Beijing. Photographer: Nelson Ching/Bloomberg

Mildewed feed given to cows caused excessive levels of a potentially cancer-causing agent in milk products from China Mengniu Dairy Co. and Fujian Changfu Dairy Industry Group Co., according to the nation’s quality regulator.

The level of aflatoxin M1 in a batch of milk produced by Mengniu was more than double the nation’s permitted level, an unidentified official at the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said in an interview with the official Xinhua News Agency posted on the regulator’s website. The amount in one of Changfu’s milk products was almost twice the standard, the official said.

China has ordered local regulators to toughen inspections of milk products for the toxin and to recall them if it is found to be present, and dairy companies to strengthen production and supply-chain management, according to the interview. The measures build on government efforts to ensure food safety after tainted milk, reprocessed oil waste and an illegal additive in pork fueled public fear over food safety.

China’s quality watchdog tested 200 types of milk products made by 128 companies in 21 provinces this year and 198 types passed the inspection, according to the Xinhua interview dated yesterday. One batch produced by Mengniu on Oct. 18 and another made by Changfu on Oct. 8 were found to be tainted, it said.

The toxin would disappear if the animals stopped eating the feed, the official said. To date, no other products have been found to contain the substance, the report said.

Excessive Amounts

The administration, citing the results of tests carried out on milk products, first reported the excessive toxin levels in the Mengniu and Changfu products on its website on Dec. 24.

Hohhot, Inner Mongolia-based Mengniu, China’s largest dairy maker, destroyed a batch of the contaminated milk products that hadn’t been shipped out of its factory, the company said on its website on Dec. 25.

Changfu apologizes for the incident and has started to recall the milk products to destroy them, the Fujian, southeastern China-based company said on its website yesterday.

Aflatoxin M1 is considered to be a possible human carcinogen, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

China shut more than 5,000 companies that violated rules, arrested more than 2,000 people, and handed down at least one death sentence in a crackdown on food safety this year. Pork products containing an illegal additive used to produce lean meat were found earlier this year, while melamine-tainted baby formula killed at least six infants and sickened about 300,000 in 2008.

— With assistance by Michael Wei, and Jian-Guo Jiang

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