Unlike in the United States where public health officials are pretending it’s “business as usual” (see post below), South African health officials have ordered Nestle to withdraw products from store shelves.
Here are excerpts from two news stories covering this latest development in the melamine saga. The first, from The Times, titled “Nestle Baby Formula Recall”, is by Nivashni Nair:
“Tests reveal high melamine levels in two batches of local infant formula
BATCHES of Nestlé baby formula have been pulled off shelves in South Africa after tests showed they contained unacceptably high levels of melamine.
The department of health said yesterday that mothers should stop using the products Nido and Lactogen and return them to the shops at which they were bought.
In September in China, three children died and more than 6000 fell ill after consuming milk contaminated with the chemical.
Melamine, commonly used in kitchen fittings, can cause kidney stones. A combination of melamine and its derivative, cyanuric acid, can lead to severe kidney damage.
When the Chinese milk scandal broke, Nestlé said toxic milk would never enter its products in South Africa because it employed stringent quality controls.
But this week the health department recalled two of the company’s top-selling infant milk formulas because they had tested positive for high levels of melamine.
Health department spokesman Leon Mbangwa said: “The products are Nido and Lactogen1. Laboratory test results reveal that the sample of the locally manufactured infant formula product [Nido] contained an unacceptable level of 3mg/kg of melamine. This is more than the internationally accepted 1mg/kg for foodstuff intended for infants and young children.”
The Lactogen tested was found to contain 1.6 mg/kg of melamine.
Mbangwa said Nestlé has been told to advise clients of the “unacceptable” levels of melamine and recall the products made locally between June and July this year.
Although Nestlé has adhered to the department’s recall notice, the company insists the products are “100percent safe”.
Nestlé spokesman Theo Mxakwe told The Times: “There is no need for mothers to stop using these products because we feel that the levels of melamine found in these products are 10 times less than the required standard by the World Health Organisation.
“We are a very responsible company and we know that this product does not pose a threat.”…”
The second story is by Lyse Comins of IOL news and is titled “Nothing wrong with our milk, insists Nestle”:
“The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health has ordered Nestle to withdraw two batches of its popular Lactogen 1 and Nido 1 baby milk formula in the province this week after positive tests for low traces of melamine.
But Nestle has insisted the products are safe for human consumption.
The melamine scare first emerged in China where tens of thousands of children have fallen ill with kidney problems in recent months, and at least four have died, after being fed baby formula that was later found to have been mixed with melamine.
The withdrawal of the batches of baby formula in KwaZulu-Natal was revealed on Tuesday even as a Durban mother expressed concern that the Nan baby formula she was feeding her one-month-old child was “foaming” in the bottle. She believed it had made her child sick.
Nestle said in a statement on Tuesday night that the Department of Health had asked the company to do a compliance trade withdrawal of a batch of 900g Lactogen 1 manufactured in South Africa in July 2008 (batch code 82050179L1 250g) and a batch of 900g Nido 1+ (batch code 81790181SO2E1M) manufactured in June 2008. A total of 3 808 cans of Lactogen and 699 cans of Nido were found to contain the chemical.
“The company immediately complied with the authorities’ request. However, Nestle reiterates that “these products are absolutely safe for consumption and in the absence of any specific South African legislation for melamine in food, that the traces of melamine detected are more than 10 times lower than the WHO guidance level of health concern”.
Nestle said that during the melamine crisis in China, which resulted in the death of four babies and the serious illness of more than 6 200 babies, the company had taken “total control” over its milk supply chain locally.
“Systematic melamine testing for all raw milk bought in South Africa was introduced and every batch of dairy products is now tested for melamine before release from the factory. However, testing led to the discovery of melamine in a number of samples of cattle feed, which explains the presence of melamine traces in these batches. Nestle has also taken steps to ensure that the cattle feed used by its South African milk producers is melamine free,” Nestle said.
Avisha Naicker, of Durban, said she noticed a few months ago that some cans of the Nestle Nan formula appeared different to others and tended to “foam up” in her baby’s bottle. She did not think too much of it until her baby became violently ill last week.
“The milk would foam in the bottle when it was prepared, but some of the cans were fine. Then I got a new can and it happened again and there were bubbles in the bottle and my child started sucking in air and became colicky and started throwing up the milk,” she said.
Naicker said she complained to Nestle and it had immediately replaced the can of milk and sent a courier to collect the half-used product. She said she regretted handing over the product as it would have been preferable to send it for independent testing.
“When I called Nestle, they said that they make the milk in two different textures and one is creamish and the other one is whitish. They said some of the milk was made in Brazil and some in South Africa, but the can label does not say where it is made,” Naicker said…”