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Chinese Milk Contamination - Recalled Products Warning Email

Summary:
Email forward claims that a number of well known snack food products have been recalled in Singapore due to the possibility that they contain contaminated milk from China (Full commentary below).



Status:
True - However, the recall is a precaution and not all products listed may actually be contaminated.


Example:(Submitted, September 2008)
Subject: Items recalled due to China's toxic milk scandal

Not sure how accurate is this list. Somebody from Singapore gave it to me. Just want to err on the safe side.

Items that have been recalled due to China's milk scandal

For your information, the following items have been recalled due to China's milk scandal:

1. M&M

2. Snickers

3. Mento's Yoghurt Bottle

4. Dove Chocolate

5. Oreo Wafer Sticks

6. Dutchlady Sterilised Milk

7. Wall's all natural mango

8. Mini Poppers Ice Cream

9. Magnum Ice Cream

10. Moo Sandwich Ice Cream

11. Mini Cornetto

12. Youcan Ice Cream

Stores have been asked by AVA Singapore to remove them. If u have any of these items at home, don't eat them.




Commentary:
According to this warning email, a number of popular snack food items have been recalled in Singapore because of the possibility that they contain contaminated milk products from China. In September 2008, thousands of Chinese children became ill, and several died, after consuming milk products tainted with the industrial chemical, melamine.

The snack food items listed in the warning email includes M&Ms, Snickers bars, Dove Chocolate, Magnum Ice Cream and a number of others.

It is true that Singapore's Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) has recalled products containing milk from China. A statement on the AVA website notes:
Since 19 Sep 08, AVA has suspended the import and sale of all milk and milk products from China. These products include milk, ice-cream, yoghurt, confectionery such as chocolates, biscuits and sweets as well as any other products containing milk from China as an ingredient.

Retailers and importers have been instructed to recall these products and withhold them from sale. AVA will not hesitate to prosecute any retailer or importer who fail to remove these products from their shelves. Under the Sale of Food Act, anyone found selling unwholesome food can be fined up to $10,000 and/or sentenced to three months jail, or both.
An article in the Straights Times reports that major retailers in Singapore have removed any products that might possibly contain contaminated Chinese milk:
Most stores have been conducting triage on their stocks since last Friday, first pulling China-made milk and dairy products, then confectioneries off the shelves, and finally tracking down suppliers to determine if food made elsewhere included Chinese dairy products.

It is believed that the process of nailing down the origin of ingredients could take days.

Supermarket chains FairPrice, Cold Storage, Giant and Shop N Save, along with convenience stores Cheers and 7-Eleven, have each yanked dozens of products from their shelves.

The list includes M&Ms, Snickers peanut bars, Dove chocolate bars, Oreo wafer sticks, Magnum mini classics ice cream, Monmilk milk and Walls Mini Poppers ice cream.
The recall comes amid growing unease and wariness among Asian consumers due to the contamination scandal. Rumours about various product recalls pertaining to the contamination have circulated rapidly around Asia via email and SMS.

The BBC reports that a number of countries in the region have taken steps to control milk products from China in response to the contamination:
Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Bangladesh, Gabon, Burundi and the Philippines are all either testing Chinese diary [sic] products or pulling them from shops.

Many countries have recalled products which could be affected

US coffee giant Starbucks has stopped serving drinks with milk in many Chinese outlets and many other large companies are testing products in some Asian locations or pulling them straight from the shelves.
However, it should be noted that the blanket recall of all milk products from China in Singapore and elsewhere is a precautionary measure and it does not mean that all the products listed are actually contaminated. In fact, Mars China, the makers of M&Ms, Snickers and Dove has issued a statement reassuring consumers that none of their products are affected by the contamination:
Mars China does not source any milk powder or other ingredients for any of its products from any company which has been found to be selling melamine-contaminated dairy products. Just last week, AQSIQ (the Chinese food safety watchdog) tested product samples of Mars China’s milk powder suppliers and found them to be free of melamine.

We are confident that none of our chocolate or confectionery products made in China include any dairy ingredients adulterated with melamine.
Dutch Lady Milk Industries Malaysia also notes that while their products sold in Singapore and Hong Kong have been recalled as a precaution, products sold in Malaysia use non-Chinese milk products and are completely safe for consumption.

It is important to note that the products listed in the warning email are manufactured and distributed in many parts of the world and only those sold in some Asian regions are likely to use milk products from China.

References:
China milk scandal: 53,000 children fall ill from contaminated milk powder
Consumers Need Not Be Unduly Concerned Over Melamine Incidents
Wariness on China food
Chinese milk fears spread in Asia
NOTICE REGARDING THE DAIRY CRISIS IN CHINA
Dutch Lady products safe to consume


Last updated: 24th September 2008
First published: 24th September 2008

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen