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Taiwan stores remove banned products

DOH bans goods containing Chinese dairy, vegetable proteins

 Employees of a warehouse store remove products containing milk powder from China, on Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwanese officials...
 Employees of a warehouse store remove products containing milk powder from China, on Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwanese officials...

Taiwan Chinese Milk Scare

Employees of a warehouse store remove products containing milk powder from China, on Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwanese officials...

Taiwan Chinese Milk Scare

Employees of a warehouse store remove products containing milk powder from China, on Wednesday Sept. 24, 2008, in Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwanese officials...

Stores were racing yesterday to remove 160 food products containing Chinese dairy and vegetable proteins from the shelves before a 10 p.m. deadline imposed by the Department of Health.
The department issued a ban on the products late Tuesday after tests found the toxic chemical melamine in products from four local companies which had imported non-dairy creamer from China.
The list of products to be removed included cereals, oatmeal, ice cream, soy milk, and a variety of tea and coffee drinks including milk. The measure could cost businesses up to NT$1 billion, reports estimated.
Shops which do not comply could face fines ranging from NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.
Melamine is a protein-rich chemical used in the production of plastics and glues. At least four infants died in China and more than 52,000 were sickened by consuming milk powder and other dairy products contaminated by the chemical. Melamine had been added to achieve better results in food tests for proteins.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) advocated the installation of a safety hotline between Taiwan and China to learn first hand about problems with food safety and consumer protection. Ma said he saw it as a long-term project which could prevent the present problems from recurring in the future.
During a visit by members of a medical association to the Presidential Office, Ma expressed his support for what he described as the tough measures taken by the Department of Health against Chinese products.
Yesterday's massive recall of products affected a wide range of companies which had used milk powder or non-dairy creamers from suppliers which had imported them from China. Melamine was found in products traced back to two Chinese companies, the Sanlu Group and Shandong Duqing. Many of the downstream processors were unaware of the precise origin of the products, leading to distrust and differences of opinions about which food should be recalled.
Food multinational Unilever pulled one product, Lipton's green milk tea, off the shelves after the Department of Health said Tuesday it found melamine in milk powder from its supplier, Chia Tai Foods.
The tainted powder had only been used for experiments to develop new products not given out for consumption yet, Unilever spokeswoman Tsai Fang-chi told reporters. After the company recalled the milk tea, it ordered tests which showed negative for melamine, Tsai said. The company was also turning to dairy suppliers from New Zealand, Thailand and the Netherlands.
Another conflict pitted Taiwan's second-largest hypermarket chain, RT-Mart, against Taoyuan County-based supplier Tai-jye Taiwan Inc.
There was evidence that Tai-jye sold 244 bags of Sanlu milk powder to RT-Mart, said Taoyuan chief prosecutor Chang Chin-feng. The hypermarket chain stood by claims it had only bought a different brand from Tai-jye. Prosecutors launched the investigation because the two sides' versions of events varied.
Separately, RT-Mart said yesterday that tests showed that its bread and pastries were safe.
Another company, King Car Industrial Co., was trying to put the melamin crisis behind it by launching a new batch of products made with dairy products from South Korea and Thailand.
Local health department officials across the island visited stores and suppliers of dairy products yesterday to check for bags of suspect milk powder, while testing centers intensified their work.
The Department of Health said businesses could apply for certificates of safety which they could receive within 24 hours after their products pass tests.