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Toxins found in tainted milk brand product

By Zhou Wenting (China Daily)

08:19, December 27, 2011

A batch of milk produced by Mengniu Group has tested to have excessive aflatoxin, a cancer-causing substance, over the weekend. (Provided to China Daily)

BEIJING - Cai Mengsha bought two boxes of milk produced by the Chinese dairy giant Mengniu Group over the weekend. But she was having second thoughts after learning excessive levels of a cancer-causing toxin were found in a batch of milk manufactured by the company.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine on Saturday published the result of a random check of 200 dairy products in 21 provinces, and two products, including one manufactured by Mengniu, were found to contain excessive aflatoxin.

Despite the company's declaration on Monday that the entire tainted batch was destroyed in its branch plant in Meishan, Sichuan province, before it could reach the market, Cai, a college student in Zhejiang, said she was still confused as to whether the milk she had bought was safe to consume.

While the national standard allowed a maximum of 0.5 micrograms carcinogenic content in a kg of milk, the official test found 1.2 micrograms of the toxic substance in the Mengniu sample. The sample product was a 250 ml pack of pure milk produced on Dec 18, according to the test result published on the website of the general administration.

Aflatoxin is virulent in terms of toxicity and is classified as a first-class carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

"Experiments on animals have demonstrated a strong carcinogenic effect of the substance, and studies about epidemic diseases indicate that the content of the substance in food is relevant to the incidence of liver cancer," said Fan Zhihong, associate professor with China Agricultural University's college of food science and nutrition engineering.

She also says the carcinogen can accumulate in the human body, and is resistant to heat. "It dissolves when the temperature reaches nearly 300 C, which means high temperature disinfection or pasteurizing (a common disinfection method used in the dairy industry) cannot kill it at all."

Dairy experts said the source of the problem might be traced to cattle feed being contaminated by aflatoxin. "Cattle feed, such as corn, rice and soybean, will produce the poison after having been stored for a long time," said Wang Dingmian, chairman of the Guangzhou Dairy Association.

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Leave your comment2 comments

  1. Name

PD User at 2011-12-27183.39.52.*
How come this company has NOT installed automatic chemical analysis equipments (don"t trust human hands) to deal wih production problems since this issue had killed and sickened many recently? Maybe a stiff delicensing proedure needs to proceed other than hefty fines and jailing of culprits in the work places.
See at 2011-12-2760.50.12.*
Boycott buy all type of all milk produced by Mengniu

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