PARAMARIBO, Suriname, September 26, 2008 – Suriname has become the first Caribbean country to ban Chinese milk and dairy products on the heels of a tainted milk scandal.
While none of the affected products have been discovered here so far, officials are taking no chances. They say the ban is a precautionary measure.
Agriculture Minister Kermechend Raghoebarsing said the import ban was implemented after the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned that the contaminated Chinese baby formula at the heart of the scandal might be smuggled into other countries. But Chief of veterinary inspection at the Ministry of Agriculture, Edmund Rozenblad, has made it clear that there is no need to panic.
The Chinese milk was found to be contaminated by the industrial chemical melamine and has caused the deaths of four babies in China. Chinese dairy products company, Sanlu, recalled all the powdered milk in the north-west China’s Gansu province where melamine was reported to have been used in 22 brands of infant formula, making more than 53,000 infants ill and hospitalising almost 12,900 with kidney stones. A number of survivors have been diagnosed with acute kidney failure
The use of melamine in food production is banned in China and other countries because it is known to cause renal and urinary problems in humans and animals.
So far, contamination has also been found in liquid milk, sweets, frozen yogurt dessert and in coffee drink and the WTO said that all these products were most probably manufactured using ingredients made from melamine contaminated milk.
In 2007, melamine was found in pet feed manufactured in China and exported to the United States, and caused the death of a large number of dogs and cats due to kidney failure.