Philippines’s Melamine Scare: 2 Million Kilos of Milk Imported From China This Year

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It took nearly two weeks before Philippine authorities finally revealed that there had been 2 million kilos of milk imported from China from January to August this year. As the scare of melamine-contaminated milk exploded in the news, about 53,000 children, mostly from China, have been sickened by the adulterated milk which causes urinary malfunction and kidney stones. There are some reports of death.

Melamine, an industrial chemical used for the manufacture of plastics, has been added to milk to make it appear thick and proteinaceous. (see blog entitled “Import ban of 30+ generic drugs from India & melamine-contaminated milk from China” dated September 17, 2008.

The first reaction from the Philippines was to monitor the milk being sold in the market which is flooded with smuggled goods. The Department of Health (DOH) announced later that hospitals are being watched for sickened children that could be linked with melamine. Not until today, September 25, 2008, there was no mention by the Bureau of Customs that milk from China has in fact entered the country.

In a memorandum circular issued to all Customs district and port collectors, Morales said that all existing licenses of Chinese milk and dairy product importers have been revoked and canceled following the Department of Health’s ban on the importation, distribution and sale of milk and dairy products from China.

“I issued the circular adopting the order of the DOH to ensure that there would be no more importations of milk and dairy products from China,”—Customs Commissioner Napoleon Morales PDI (09/25/08, Ortiz, M)

Here are some questions worth thinking about. Why is testing for melamine being done only now when the scare has been there for sometime? Until now why is there no laboratory result? How many of the milk comes from Sanlu, the main manufacturer of the melamine-tainted products from China? Have the authorities also tested smuggled milk that’s not part of the imports the government has identified? Has there been any report of children getting sick from ingestion of milk from China? Why did it take the government too long to inform the public of these milk imports? How can the government make dissemination of information faster? =0=

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