Archive for the ‘poison’ Category

China’s Shenzhou-7 spacecraft, its melamine-contaminated milk & RP’s incapacity to do lab tests

September 27, 2008

The Beijing Space Command and Control Center announced the successful space walk of astronaut Zhai Zhigang who carried a Chinese flag outside the orbit module. The proud news of being the third country to ever do such a feat in space is bogged by the worsening embarrassment from the sale of melamine-tainted milk which sickened more than 53,000 children (mostly in China,) and blamed for the death of at least 4 people. Melamine-related illnesses had been reported in Taiwan, Shanghai, and Hong Kong.

The Chinese adulterated milk has crept into other dairy and food products including the popular “white rabbit” candies, chocolates, ice-cream, yoghurt, pastries and confectioner’s biscuits. This food safety scandal has been on-going since last year when China has been under criticism for improperly selling pet food, toys, toothpaste laced with industrial toxins. The European Union, Japan, Brunei, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and Taiwan are among countries which banned the Chinese imported milk.

Amid outrage versus greed and corruption, Prime Minster Wen Jiabao promised food safety and ethical standards in Chinese products. This year, the Philippines bought 2 million kilograms of milk from China. Monitoring by the Department of Health (DOH) for illnesses that may be ascribed to melamine-contamination in milk and dairy products is on-going.

The Philippines has meager laboratory capacity to undertake testing for melamine and other poisons. Authorities mull on sending specimens out to neighboring countries the way they did with the endosulfan scare and fatality identification during the sinking of Princess of the Stars three months ago. To avoid future embarrassments, a self-respecting country must put up a decent laboratory of its own. The government must not rely on its neighbors to do its laboratory work. (Photo Credits: AP; Annasea; brutaldolltx) =0=

Update: On September 29, 2008, the popular Cadbury cholocate has been recalled from sale in Great Britain in the wake of melamine-contamination scare. The recall doesn’t cover the Cadbury chocolates being sold in United States.

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

September 25, 2008


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=

Import ban of 30+ generic drugs from India & melamine-contaminated milk from China

September 17, 2008

More than thirty (30) drugs which include acyclovir, cirprofloxacin and simvastatin, manufactured in two Ranbaxy Laboratories (Dewas and Poenta Sahib plants) in India will not be permitted into the US. Without asking for recall of drugs already on the shelf, the Food Drug Administration (FDA,) the decision is based on the lack of compliance to safety and manufacturing standards by the Indian drug company.

The Food Drug Administration says no report of harm has been so far reported.

List of Drugs with Stop Order

acyclovir, cefprozil, cefuroxime axetil, cephalexin, ciprofloxacin HCl, clarithromycin, fenofibrate, fluconazole, fosinopril sodium, fosinopril sodium and hydrochlorothiazide, gabapentin, glimepiride, isotrentinoin, lamivudine, loratadine OTC, metformin HCl, nefazodone HCl, nitrofurantoin, nitrofurantoin and macrocystalline, ofloxacin, pravastatin sodium, ranitidine, simvastatin, terazozin HCl, valacyclovir HCl, and zidovudine (PEPFAR).” Medical News Today (09/16/08, Agus, Z, MD)

In a similar vein, in a growing scare after imported milk laced with melamine, a chemical substance used to “increase protein content” of milk has been reported to have killed undetermined number of babies and sickened at least 1,253 babies in China. It’s the same chemical that killed pet dogs in USA and Europe afte being fed imported Chinese milk reported earlier.

Melamine, an industrial chemical used to make plastics such as plates and saucers, is known to cause urinary malfunction, stones and failure of the kidneys when ingested.

Toxic History of China’s Products

— Half of all dangerous goods seized in Europe in 2007 came from China
— Last year China found two companies guilty of intentionally exporting contaminated pet food
— US authorities last year gave warning that monkfish imported from China may be puffer fish, containing a potentially deadly toxin
— In 2005 Sudan 1, a carcinogenic food colouring, was found in Chinese branches of KFC
— In January a survey found almost two thirds of Chinese people were worried about food safety
Sources: European Commission, Times archives /TimesOnline(09/15/08)/ChinaDaily/Reuters

Produced by Sanlu, China’s biggest milk power-maker halted its milk production. Ninetten (19) people were arrested in connection with the scandal of greed and lack of concern for people’s lives. The investigation of the scandal was delayed by a ban of news of this nature during the Beijing Olympics.

These two reports have practical implications in the Philippines who partly rely on India for its imports of medicines. They have more resonance with the passage of the Cheap Drug Legislation of 2008 signed into law of Pres. Gloria M. Macapagal. China also sells products to the Philippines which need tighter watch for adulteration and toxic contamination. =0=

UPDATE: On September 25, 2008, the PDI reported that 2 million kilos of milk was imported by the Philippines from China from Jan. to Aug. 2008. As the scandal of the melamine-contaminated milk widens worldwide, about 53,000 children, mostly in China, have been reported to have been sickened and several babies died. The DOH is monitoring hospitals for reports of children getting sick as result of ingesting milk and milk products.
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