FSANZ testing imported Chinese fruit and vegetables in response to melamine contamination fears

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 8th October 2008

International media reports have cast doubt about the safety of certain fruit and vegetable products exported from China including Chinese mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, and lettuce. There are concerns some may be tainted with melamine, the toxic chemical at the centre of the ongoing Chinese milk scandal.

Food Standards Australia and New Zealand this afternoon released a statement outlining that no products in Australia have been found to be affected but further tests were being carried out. “Australia imports some vegetables from China so FSANZ is taking this seriously,” the FSANZ statement advised. “At this stage we can find no evidence that fruit and vegetable imports are unsafe but it’s certainly something we’re looking at.”

“If it is confirmed that fruit and vegetables contaminated by melamine are coming into Australia, we will alert the States and Territories and the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service and appropriate action will be taken,” Australia’s food standards body concluded.

The Chinese melamine scandal has to date only been linked with milk-based products, following the contamination of milk products to make their protein levels appear higher. The criminal contamination has led to the arrests of 27 people and once again brought the issue of food safety to the fore.

To date, 53,000 children in China have been hospitalized and four infants have tragically died as a result of over-exposure to the chemical melamine.

In Australia there have been no reported illnesses as a result of the scandal, although four products have been withdrawn from sale.

To keep up-to-date with the issue in Australia please visit: www.foodstandards.gov.au/newsroom/factsheets/factsheets2008/melamineinfoodsfromchina/index.cfm