29 September 2008 | Jake Kanter
The European Commission has imposed a ban on imported children's food products from China.
The EU-wide measure came into effect last week and covers all products containing milk powder. The Commission said the ban was a "safeguard" for EU citizens.
It follows the recent scandal of contaminated milk powder in China. Powder was found to be tainted with melamine, a chemical usually found in plastic. The problem has left three children dead and more than 12,000 hospitalised.
A spokeswoman for the Commission stressed the ban was a "precautionary" measure. It will also involve full testing on all products containing more than 15 per cent milk powder from China, in addition to random testing on such goods already in the EU.
EU countries imported 19,500 tonnes of confectionary products, such as pastry, cake and biscuits in 2007, as well as 1,250 tonnes of chocolate and other related products.
The World Health Organisation has also called for action in food supply chains. "Restoring consumer confidence is critical. Melamine-contaminated products should be removed from the food chain in order to prevent further exposure," said Dr Ezzeddine Boutrif, director of the Nutrition and Consumer Protection Division at the food and agriculture organisation of the United Nations, in a statement. "The safe supply of dairy products needs to be restored immediately."