Posted October. 09, 2008 22:07,
The scare over melamine-tainted Chinese dairy products is escalating, as the chemical has been found in coffee creamer used in vending machines and coffee shops in Korea.
Yuchang F.C. Corp. imported 41 tons of a melamine-contaminated coffee creamer powder called Vegetable Creamer F25 from the Chinese company Duquing.
The creamer was reportedly shipped to food processing company ISC laced with food additives, packed into one-kilogram bags, and sent to three marketing companies that distributed them to vending machine companies and coffee shops.
According to a government probe, ISC produced three coffee brands by mixing Vegetable Creamer F25 with coffee and distributed them in the market.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that inspections continue to trace coffee shops supplied with the tainted products, but that the creamer was not made into domestically used coffee creamer products.
We found that the tainted coffee creamer didnt go to big food manufacturers that make coffee mix products consumed by households, said administration official Sohn Moon-ki.
Another official of the food watchdog said, The questioned coffee creamer was only distributed to vending machines. It is unlikely that coffee shops at major hotels were supplied with the creamer.
Yuchang, a relatively small company, is among creamer importers undergoing an investigation by food authorities. After tests for melamine on 126 creamer products, only five items didn`t contain the chemical.
Products free from melamine include Vegetable Coffee Creamer imported by Gyeongseo F&B, Vegetable Creamer Powder, Vegetable Creamer, Dongin Dairy Industry and Coffee Creamer by B&G Global, and Creamer by Ire Coffee.
The food safety watchdog said, however, that the health hazard is not so high since the creamer in question contains only 1.5 parts per million of melamine.
To allay public fear over food safety, the agency announced 124 dairy products it found to be safe. It also disclosed 304 sorts of dairy-based foods under probe and banned them from circulation as a precautionary measure. If they are found to be safe, the ban will be lifted immediately.
Chinese milk-based products in Korea include baby formula, processed milk, snacks, chocolate, bread, milk sugar and casein.
Regardless of type, if a product contains 0.01 percent of milk, it is categorized as a dairy-based product.
Processed milk products such as yogurt, ice cream, cheese products, snacks, bread and chocolate make up 90 percent of Chinese dairy-based imports.
Though not classified as dairy products, processed seafood and other products covered with flour dough can also be dangerous since the dough could contain melamine-tainted milk.
Whipped and vegetable cream can be also contaminated by melamine because milk is often added to eggs and oil, the main ingredients of cream, to make food soft.
According to a report submitted to lawmaker Jeon Hye-sook of the parliamentary committee on health, 6,574 tons of dairy-based products spanning 364 kinds except for milk and powdered milk were imported from China this year.
The combined amount of dairy-based products imported from China this year amounts to 18,000 tons.