(STAR) By Mayen Jaymalin - The Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) yesterday assured the public that all milk and other food products in the local market are free from melamine contamination and are safe for consumption.

BFAD director Leticia Gutierrez gave the assurance as the bureau released the results of tests on the last batch of imported food products for possible melamine content.

The BFAD chief said all the 32 milk and other products in the last batch were found negative for melamine contamination.

These are:
1. Captors Classics Lollipop
2. Cham Hoopie Milk Flavour Candy (special)
3. Columbia’s Choquick Instant Choco Malt Drink, 80 g. & 300 g.
4. Dairy America Skimmed Milk Processed/ Spray processed (repacked)
5. Dongguan Mayong Guang Feng Biscuit
6. Golden Haosheng Candy
7. Good Taste Strong Candy (assorted flavors)
8. Harden Foods Milkshake Candy (assorted flavors)
9. Harvey Lacto Strength Milk (assorted flavors)
10. Le Tian You Ice Candy
11. Liantong Biscuit with Chocolate coated
12. Meihua Fusion OH Chocolate Cookies with Filling
13. Meiji Black Chocolate Bar
14. Meiji Hi Milk Chocolate Bar
15. Miramar Confectionary Nougat Candy
16. Candies (Prosperity Flower) (MM)
17. Cindera Toffee Roll Candy (MM)
18. Really Savory Candy (MM)
19. Soft Candy (MM)
20. Yamyam Circle Pebble Candy (MM)
21. Nicefoods Whis O Ring Candy
22. Nutri Express 15 Nutritional Elements colored orange cap and label
23. Nutri Express 15 Nutritional Elements colored red cap and label
24. Pioneer Skimmed Milk Powder (repacked)
25. Qualify Food Coffee Candy
26. Sweet Dart Coffee Milk Candy
27. Sweet Dart Milky Milk Candy
28. Wanfu Foods Coffee Mail Tea Cookies Biscuits (yellow wrapper)
29. Wanttone Orange Egg Rolls
30. Want-Want Hot Kid Milk Candy (I milky & Chewy)
31. Want-Want Sen Bei Rice Crackers
32. Yalilai Olympic Star Candies Beijing 2008

“With the laboratory tests already done, we can say that all food products in the local market are free from melamine contamination,” Gutierrez said in an interview.

She said out of the more than a hundred milk, meat and other food products tested by BFAD, only six were found to have melamine and these were all made in China.

“Just to make sure that other imported products are not contaminated with melamine, we (also) tested those from Indonesia and they were negative,” Gutierrez added.

The Department of Health (DOH) and the BFAD will assess next week if the ban against China-made milk and its byproducts can already be lifted as the last batch of products tested by the bureau were negative for melamine, Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.

“I have to wait for the report of BFAD. I think BFAD’s legal department is now preparing a report so by Monday, maybe we can make a decision. But it appears that we are not that affected by melamine contamination,” Duque said.

Duque urged the Chinese government to impose “sanctions in the harshest possible ways on the people responsible for the addition of melamine” in milk products.

Gutierrez stressed that BFAD will continue to collect samples and conduct routine laboratory tests to ensure that all products being sold in the market are safe to eat.

“We have to continue routine laboratory examination, because there are new imported products coming in,” she explained.

Gutierrez, however, said all commercial establishments selling imported food products in the country have been directed to register their products with BFAD before selling them to the public.

“Only products registered with BFAD are considered legal and safe for public consumption,” Gutierrez said.

The Bureau of Customs (BOC), meantime, remains on alert for food products that might be tainted with melamine, although this time they have shifted their attention from milk and its derivative products for human consumption to foods intended for pets.

BOC-Customs Intelligence and Investigation Service (CIIS) director Jairus Paguntalan yesterday circulated a memorandum to all enforcement units, directing them to be on alert for the possible entry of pet foods and animal feeds that might contain melamine.

This after it was reported that in China, some 1,500 dogs bred for their raccoon-like fur died of kidney failure after eating feeds tainted with melamine.

In the Oct. 23 memorandum, Paguntalan said, “Based on the US FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration) website advisory directing the recall of pet food due to melamine content and the news report of melamine-tainted feeds that killed 1,500 dogs in Beijing, China, you are hereby directed to monitor/alert all shipments of pet foods/animal feeds made/manufactured/processed/exported from China to ensure that subject shipments are tested for melamine content and that it shall not be released without prior clearance from the concerned agencies.”

Once pet food or animal feed arrives in the port, these cargoes would be placed on hold. They would then take samples from the shipment and turn them over to the proper authority for testing.

The BOC-CIIS has yet to determine which government agency has jurisdiction over animal feeds and pet food.

“This is the first time that we have raised the alert for pet food. We are pro-active if we receive information from the global community,” he added.

Paguntalan said there is a possibility that they would consider releasing the shipment under “provisional release.”

Under a provisional release, the BOC would release the shipment to the consignee on the condition that it would be delivered to a warehouse and would not be sold to the public until it has been cleared by the government.

A bureau agent would also be assigned to guard the shipment. - With Sheila Crisostomo, Evelyn Macairan

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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