Chinese milk-containing food banned in Europe

The European Union on Thursday announced a total ban on imports of any baby food products from China that contain traces of milk, in response to the widening health scare over tainted Chinese dairy products.

EU headquarters also called for tighter checks on other Chinese food products, despite a report from food safety experts that found only a limited risk to consumers in Europe.

"The measures will also impose an exclusive, total ban all products originating from China for infants and young children, containing any percentage of milk," said EU spokeswoman Nina Papadoulaki.

Tests will be carried out on all imported goods from China containing more than 50 percent of milk powder and random testing will be done on such products already on the EU market, Papadoulaki told reporters.

The measures are due to come into force Friday.

The EU does not import dairy goods from China, but there have been concerns over other products, such as chocolate, candy and cookies that may contain milk products.

Papadoulaki said increased controls introduced last week after the Chinese scandal had so far failed to discover any food imports tainted with abnormal levels of the industrial chemical melamine, which has been blamed for sickening 53,000 infants in China and killing four.

"We are taking the measure for a precaution," she said. "We haven't detected any contaminated products within the European Union."

France on Wednesday announced it was going further by banning the sale of all goods containing derivatives of Chinese dairy products.

A report Thursday from EU experts found that even in the worst case scenario, adults in Europe would not exceed tolerable intakes of melamine by eating Chinese products. However if products got onto the EU market with levels of contamination similar to the highest levels found in China, there could be a risk to children, the report said.

"In worst case scenarios with the highest level of contamination, children with high daily consumption of milk toffee, chocolate or biscuits containing high levels of milk products would exceed the tolerable daily intake," said the European Food Safety Agency based in Parma, Italy.

It said children eating large amounts of the products could in theory exceed the tolerable intake of melamine by more than threefold. However, the agency added that there was no evidence such high levels of contamination were present in Europe.

The EU last week told customs authorities to step up controls on Chinese imports that may contain dairy products and has requested China to halt imports of such products unless they are proven to be free of contamination.

The EU did not mention any brand names of any Chinese products subjected to the ban or to additional testing.

British supermarket chain Tesco's has removed Chinese-made White Rabbit Creamy Candies off its shelves as a precaution amid reports that samples of the milk candy in Singapore and New Zealand had tested positive for melamine.

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