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US 'import alert' on China food

By Jonathan Beale
BBC News, Washington

Chinese workers prepare to destroy boxes of contaminated Mengniu milk
China has already recalled many of its dairy products

US authorities have issued a nationwide "import alert" for Chinese-made food products in the wake of the melamine contamination scandal.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had already issued an alert warning Americans not to consume Chinese products containing milk.

Thousands of Chinese have been poisoned this year.

The latest alert goes beyond dairy products to such items as drinks, sweets, and baby and pet food.

It also allows US inspectors to seize any Chinese products suspected of being contaminated.

Safety issues

The earlier restrictions were put in place on dairy products after four Chinese children died from kidney failure and thousands more people fell ill after consuming dairy products laced with melamine - which is normally used in making plastics and fertiliser.

The FDA has now added more than a dozen other goods imported from China, including biscuits, instant coffee and tea products.

In addition, US officials will be travelling to China next week for consultations with the Chinese about safety issues.

The FDA is also planning to open three new offices in China to check products intended for the US market.

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