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Page last updated at 04:47 GMT, Monday, 27 October 2008

Hong Kong widens China food tests

A Chinese child is examined for kidney stones
The scandal has scared Chinese parents

Hong Kong is stepping up its tests of mainland Chinese food products, and is asking China's help to trace the source of melamine contamination in eggs.

Health secretary York Chow said Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety will begin testing Chinese pork, farmed fish and offal products.

Testing of animal feed, chicken meat and eggs will also be introduced.

Hong Kong scientists found excessive levels of melamine in one brand of mainland eggs on Saturday.

The extra-large "Select Fresh Brown Eggs" imported from the Hanwei Group in Dalian in northeastern China, were found to have nearly twice the legal limit of melamine.

Animal feed

"We have contacted the mainland's food safety agency and hope they can do more to reduce the risk at the source," Mr Chow told reporters.

He suggested the contamination may have come from animal feeds.

"Since some animal feed used on the mainland might have been polluted by melamine, our tests will target more on meat imported from the mainland," Mr Chow said.

"As we have found melamine in eggs, we shall also test chicken meat and we shall also look at offal, for example, chicken kidneys and pig kidneys," he said.

The government plans to test all eggs imported from the mainland this week.

Feed used by Hong Kong-based farmers appears to be free of contamination in tests conducted so far, and local farmers have said they do not use imported feed.

Toxic scandal

The latest tests are part of an ongoing scandal about milk and other food products made in China and tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

Tens of thousands of Chinese babies have been sickened by toxic milk products, many of them developing kidney problems. At least four babies have died since news of the contamination emerged almost two months ago.

Chinese food products, from milk to chocolates to yogurts and drinks have been banned around the world, and tests continue to pinpoint problems in China's food safety regimen.

Hong Kong has imposed a limit on melamine use in foods, restricting it to no more than 2.5 milligrams per kilogramme. Melamine found in food meant for children under three and lactating mothers should be no higher than one mg per kg.

Earlier this month, China's chief food inspection official said the Chinese tainted milk scandal was now under control.



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