RIYADH // The Saudi food authority today reported high contamination by the industrial chemical melamine in milk powder made by a Nestle plant in China. "(The) Product contains high concentrations harmful to health ...," Saudi Arabia's Food and Drug Authority said in a statement on its website. A spokesman for Swiss-based Nestle, the world's biggest food group whose shares fell 2.3 per cent, was not immediately available for comment.
Saudi Arabia named the product as a 400-gram pack of Nesvita pro-Bones and said the batch was produced on May 6, 2008 by a Nestle plant in China. The authority said the product must not be consumed by consumers of any age. It said it had also found melamine concentrations harmful to children in three other batches of the same brand ? in 1800- and 900-gram packs ? which were made Nov 19, 2007 and on Feb 25, 2008.
The agency also found melamine in a chocolate wafer cream it identified as "Apollo" made by the Malaysia-based ApolloFood Industries on June 5, 2008, according to the website. The authority said the four products must not be consumed by children. It did not say if the products had been withdrawn from retail outlets in the kingdom or if an import ban would be imposed. The authority said it had tested 52 milk powder products, none of which are destined for babies' consumption. All of the products were made in China or in countries which have found melamine-tainted products, it added.
China has lifted to six the number of babies believed killed from drinking a melamine-tainted milk formula and raised the number affected to 294,000. Melamine is an industrial compound found in plastics that has been used to fool government protein content tests. Chinese media first reported in September that babies had fallen ill after consuming melamine-tainted formula, rocking faith in Chinese-made products.
The scandal prompted bans and extra checks on Chinese milk and food products in dozens of export markets. Tests revealed melamine in Chinese-made products ranging from chocolate bars to yoghurt. Last year, melamine was found in China-made pet food ingredients that killed pets in the United States. The United States earlier this month issued an import alert for Chinese-made food products, calling for foods to be stopped at the border unless importers can certify that they are either free of dairy goods or free of melamine.