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Page last updated at 12:07 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 13:07 UK

EU limits imported Chinese food

Chinese dairy worker monitors production at a plant in Wuhan
China says it has acted firmly to prevent further contamination

The European Commission is imposing a ban on EU imports of Chinese baby food that contains any traces of milk, while other Chinese food will undergo tests.

The measures come amid a health scare over milk products contaminated in China with the chemical melamine. It has caused several deaths there.

The commission says all imported products from China containing more than 15% milk powder will be tested.

Random testing will be done on all such products already on sale in the EU.

The EU does not import milk or other dairy produce from China, but processed foods such as biscuits and chocolates might have traces of milk powder, commission health spokeswoman Nina Papadoulaki told the BBC.

Experts from the 27 EU member states are discussing the potential risk to consumers on Thursday.

Ms Papadoulaki said no food contaminated with melamine had been found in the EU so far.

In China the tainted milk has made 53,000 children ill and killed four.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) said on Thursday that there could be a risk for children who consumed above-average amounts of biscuits and chocolate contaminated with melamine.

Applying a Tolerable Daily Intake (TDI) of 0.5 mg/kg body weight for melamine, the EFSA said that in "worst case scenarios" children could potentially exceed the TDI by more than three times.

But children with an average consumption of biscuits, milk toffee and chocolate made with such milk powder would not exceed the TDI.

Melamine can primarily affect the kidneys.

"In the absence of available data for contaminated milk powder, the EFSA also used the highest value of melamine, reported in Chinese infant formula, as a basis for worst-case scenarios," the EFSA said.

"The EFSA stressed that it is not known at the moment whether such theoretical high-level exposure scenarios could occur in Europe," the statement said.


SEE ALSO
China milk scare 'under control'
24 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Chinese milk fears spread in Asia
23 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
China quality chief resigns over milk
22 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Bitter taste over China baby milk
17 Sep 08 |  Asia-Pacific

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