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CFIA orders testing on Chinese feed ingredients

Dairy ingredients and soybean meal coming from China for use in Canadian livestock feed now must be tested for melamine.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency, working with the Canada Border Services Agency, ordered the new testing regime for such products on Friday, “effective immediately,” looking both for melamine and for cyanuric acid, often found along with melamine.

Apart from Chinese soybean meal, CFIA’s new directive covers imports from China of whole, skim or partly skimmed milk powder; whey powder, modified whey products and casein products; dairy protein concentrates; and recycled dairy food products such as liquid milk, yogurt or infant formula.

Importers, CFIA said, will now have to provide test results indicating that ingredients coming from China — either directly, or indirectly through other countries — don’t contain detectable levels of melamine and cyanuric acid.

Results of analysis must be provided at the time of importation, CFIA said. If an importer can’t show that the product meets the new requirements, the product will be “detained and referred to the CFIA for assessment.”

CFIA’s new feed directive follows a similar analysis and documentation regime imposed earlier this month on imports of foods containing milk or milk products from China, particularly foods and formula for infants. Health Canada has set new interim standards for maximum levels of melamine and cyanuric acid in foods.

Health Canada’s interim standards make very small allowances for melamine that finds its way into food through “environmental exposure” such as in packaging or processing, rather than through deliberate spiking.

CFIA’s moves follow the latest scandal over melamine contamination in Chinese food products, this time in the dairy industry, which led to another wave of food recalls across Canada and worldwide in the wake of last year’s massive pet food recalls. In that case, wheat gluten used as a protein filler in pet foods was spiked with melamine.

As of Wednesday, at least four young children in China are reported dead and thousands more sickened from drinking melamine-laced milk since last month. The compound, which in high levels causes kidney damage, has been known to be used to falsify protein levels in diluted milk.

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