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May 27, 2017

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Melamine taints array of goods

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Public health officials announced yesterday melamine taints instant coffee, milk tea and chicken-and-corn soup that have non-dairy creamer mixed with them.

All tainted products came from China.

"It's the first time the non-dairy creamer was found to have been tainted by melamine," said Dr. Song An-jen, deputy director-general of the Department of Health (DOH).

Melamine is a highly toxic chemical used in plastics.

Many of the dairy products imported from China contain melamine. The tainted milk products have killed at least four children and sickened more than 6,200 others in China.

But so far no creamer, made of vegetable protein, had been found to have contained melamine.

"Our finding will be reported to the World Health Organization at once," said Dr. Hsiao Tung-ming, DOH director of food inspection.

The WHO will warn the world of the melamine-tainted creamer, Hsiao added.

"We ban all non-dairy products tainted by melamine from China," Dr. Song pronounced.

They include all Mr. Brown products imported by local King Car Company.

Moreover, Dr. Song said, no Nestle products imported from China can be sold in Taiwan.

The ban on all tainted milk products from China was ordered on September 18. But Nestle products were exempted.

Those that have passed the inspection can be sold in Taiwan, Dr. Song said. "Those that have just arrived in Taiwan cannot undergo inspection," he added.

Without inspection, no imports can be distributed.

King Car, which started a recall of all tainted items at once, took the initiative to send samples of powdered non-dairy cream it imported from China to the Food Industry Research and Development Institute for tests.

The test results came out yesterday, and King Car lost time in reporting the tainting to the DOH, whose deputy chief held the rare Sunday press meeting to make the announcement in the afternoon.

Song also condemned Chinese producers for tainting their products.

"We have to condemn them for what they did, and urge the Chinese authorities concerned to tighten their control over this truly terrible practice," Dr. Song pointed out.

He also urged local food importers and distributors to submit samples for tests to ascertain if their products purchased from China contain the toxic chemical.

While announcing the recall of all Mr. Brown products, King Car said its popular coffee product sold in steel cans is free of melamine.

"Altogether 120,000 cases of tainted products are available on the market," a King Car spokesman said. "We believe we will be able to recall at least 95 percent of them within a week."

But Dr. Song advised consumers to suspend consuming Chinese-made foodstuffs that contain milk powder or non-dairy creamer for the time being.

"For their own safety," the DoH official said, "people had better stop consuming such products until after further food safety checks are completed."

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