In a nutshell: Melamine, an industrial solvent, seems to be growing in the food supply; first in China and now trickling to the United States from China.
FDA Detects Melamine Contamination in Flavored Drink
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has increased inspections and product testing efforts in response to the melamine contamination problem which originated in Chinese dairy products.
As a result of the FDA’s on-going testing program, the agency has detected melamine contamination in Blue Cat Flavor Drinks. The distributor of the product, Tristar Food Wholesale Co. Inc., initiated a recall of several flavors of Blue Cat Flavor Drink, based on the FDA’s findings. The FDA advises the public not to consume this product and recommends that retailers and food service operators remove the product from sale or service.
On September 26, the FDA issued an alert to consumers that seven Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products were being recalled by the Taiwanese company, King Car Food Industrial Co. Ltd., due to possible contamination with melamine. King Car Food Industrial Co. used a non-dairy creamer manufactured by Shandong Duqing Inc., China, which was found to be contaminated with melamine. The recalled products are:
Mr. Brown Mandheling Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Arabica Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Blue Mountain Blend Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Caramel Macchiato Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown French Vanilla Instant Coffee (3-in-1)
Mr. Brown Mandhling Blend instant Coffee (2-in-1)
Mr. Brown Milk Tea (3-in-1)
The FDA recommends that consumers not consume any of the above Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products. The FDA also recommends that retailers and foodservice operators remove the products from sale or service.
Sunny Maid Corp. Monterey Park, Calif., who is an importer and distributor of Mr. Brown Instant Coffee products, is recalling the products in the United States.
The FDA is working with regulatory agencies in the United States as well as with other countries. The California Department of Public Health and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority reported that its testing of White Rabbit Creamy Candies has shown melamine contamination at high levels. In light of the widespread contamination of milk and milk-based products in China and the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s finding, the FDA continues to recommend that consumers not eat White Rabbit Creamy Candy and that retailers and foodservice operations remove the product from sale or service.
A recall by QFCO Inc., Burlingame, Calif., of the White Rabbit Creamy Candies, is underway in the United States.
The FDA is closely monitoring these recalls and will continue to perform follow up activities of other recalls that may develop.
To date, the FDA is not aware of any illnesses in the United States stemming from consumption of Blue Cat Flavor Drinks, White Rabbit Creamy Candy, or the Mr. Brown instant coffee and milk tea products.
Individuals who have experienced any health problems after consuming Blue Cat Flavor Drinks, White Rabbit Creamy Candy, or any of the identified Mr. Brown coffee and tea products are advised to contact their health care professional.
On September 12, 2008, in light of reports from China of melamine contaminated infant formula, the FDA issued a Health Information Advisory to assure the American public that there is no known threat of contamination in infant formula manufactured by companies that have met the requirements to sell such products in the United States.
That advisory also warned members of Chinese communities in the United States that infant formula manufactured in China, possibly available for purchase at Asian markets, could pose a risk to infants.
The FDA had contacted the companies who manufacture infant formula for distribution in the United States and received, from the companies, information that they are not importing formula or sourcing milk-based materials from China.
At the same time, the FDA—in conjunction with state and local officials—began a nation-wide investigation to check Asian markets for Chinese manufactured infant formula that may have been brought into the United States. In particular, this effort focused on areas of the country with large Chinese communities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and New York. To date, investigators have visited more than 1,800 retail markets and have not found Chinese infant formula present on shelves in these markets.
The FDA also advises consumers not to purchase infant formula manufactured in China from Internet sites or from other sources.
The FDA has taken, and will continue to take, proactive measures to help ensure the safety of the American food supply. In conjunction with state and local officials, the FDA will continue to visit Asian markets for food items that are imported from China and that could contain a significant amount of milk or milk proteins. In addition, the FDA has broadened its domestic and import sampling and testing of milk-derived ingredients and finished food products containing milk, such as candies, desserts, and beverages that could contain these ingredients from Chinese sources.
Milk-derived ingredients include whole milk powder, non-fat milk powder, whey powder, lactose powder, and casein.
In addition to state and local governments, the FDA is working in close cooperation with Customs and Border Protection within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, other federal agencies, and foreign governments.