Tainted baby for­mula re­called

80,000 tins have been sent to lo­cal retailers since mid July

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By KAHON CHAN in Hong Kong kahon@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

The city has be­come an­other vic­tim of the bot­u­lism scare rooted in New Zealand, as more than 80,000 cans of tainted tod­dler for­mula have been sent to lo­cal retailers since mid July. But the govern­ment as­sured con­sumers that tod­dlers aged over 1 year of age face low health risks.

Cow & Gate an­nounced on Mon­day morn­ing that it was re­call­ing two batches of “Happy Kid 3”, a grow­ing-up for­mula for tod­dlers of 1 to 3 years old, since they were made with whey pro­teins con­tam­i­nated by bac­te­ria that can cause bot­u­lism.

The Bri­tain- based baby for­mula man­u­fac­turer said it was first in­formed by its sup­plier, Fon­terra, last Fri­day that “some raw ma­te­ri­als” were prob­a­bly con­tam­i­nated by the po­ten­tially deadly bac­te­ria. The con­fir­ma­tion came on Mon­day.

Bot­toms of the tainted for­mula’s tins were marked with batch num­ber “3178” or “3179” on the first line. The man­u­fac­tured dates, printed next to the batch mark­ing, read “27 06 2013” or “28 06 2013” re­spec­tively.

The Cen­ter for Food Safety (CFS) in Hong Kong noted the tainted for­mula first landed on retailers’ shelves in mid July. Over 80,000 cans have since left the whole­saler’s ware­house, of which 4,000 were re-ex­ported to Ma­cao. No statistic tracks how many were sold to cus­tomers.

Par­ents may call 3509 2000 or leave mes­sages on the Face­book page of Cow & Gate for in­quiries. The com­pany said on its Face­book page that retailers will re­place the tainted for­mula even if the for­mula is half con­sumed or with­out a re­ceipt.

Cow & Gate apol­o­gized and stressed there has been no re­port of ill health linked to the con­tam­i­na­tion. The govern­ment also as­sured at Mon­day’s press brief­ing that the health risk for chil­dren aged 1 or above is low.

But Yau Yat- sun, a spe­cial­ist of pe­di­atric in­fec­tious dis­eases, said in­fants un­der 12 months old are sub­ject to higher risk, as their im­mune sys­tems can­not ef­fec­tively kill the bac­te­ria, which mul­ti­plies and pro­duces high lev­els of tox­ins.

Early symp­toms in­clude di­ar­rhea, droop­ing eye­lids or dif­fi­culty in suck­ling milk bot­tles. In ex­treme cases, pa­tients may suf­fer from paral­y­sis, dif­fi­culty in breath­ing or even death. But Yau high­lighted the af­fected for­mula was mar­keted to feed older tod­dlers.

The CFS has no plan to test all baby for­mula for the bac­te­ria. Shirley Le­ung Sze-lee, as­sis­tant di­rec­tor of health, said as whey pro­teins are a raw ma­te­rial in a wide range of prod­ucts, it is hard and not cost­ef­fi­cient to “look for a nee­dle in a haystack”.

The Depart­ment of Health has long en­cour­aged par­ents to breast­feed. It also rec­om­mends in­fants of more than 12 months to slowly re­place milk with a “good va­ri­ety of solid foods” as the main source of nu­tri­ents. Le­ung said, how­ever, par­ents do not have to push for a diet change for their chil­dren in light of the bot­u­lism con­tam­i­na­tion.

ZOU HONG / CHINA DAILY

Jour­nal­ists don’t want to let Theo Spier­ings go af­ter the CEO of New Zealand dairy gi­ant Fon­terra held a news con­fer­ence on its con­tam­i­nated whey pro­tein con­cen­trate on Mon­day in Bei­jing. Chi­nese pro­duc­ers us­ing the raw ma­te­ri­als are re­call­ing af­fected prod­ucts.

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