The food research agency said that its service is a response to the emergence in China of milk containing melamine, which has led to a worldwide hunt for products from that country that may contain dangerous traces of the industrial chemical.
Leatherhead said that the service is based on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) developmental method and was previously used to detect for melamine in moist pet food and soya products.
The agency said that it currently has validated three matrices for testing of chocolate, hard confectionery and powdered baby food.
Marc Esselen, head of marketing and communications at the agency, told FoodProductionDaily.com that they have already received samples from UK distributors who had imported ingredients from China and were requesting testing from the perspective of due diligence rather than crisis management.
“We will develop matrices for other products based on the level of demand from clients; while we are not expecting to be inundated with requests, we have noted a growing demand for the service in the last few days,” said Esselen.
He said the service enables products to be validated for safety in regards to any potential melamine contamination, thus allowing food and drink processors or importers to reassure retailers and consumers.
He added that the agency aims to deliver a result from a sample within two days.
EU member states are now required to inspect any Chinese products containing more than 15 per cent milk in light of the contamination scandal.
Risk assessor, the European Food Safety Authority says the threat of harmful melamine intake from these composite – or milk containing – products remains low.
However, the Commission has ruled that any Chinese product found through laboratory testing to contain more than 2.5mg/kg of the chemical will be destroyed.
UK-based Food Standards Agency is today alerting the public about a brand of biscuits from China on sale in the UK that have been found to contain low levels of melamine (4.98 mg/kg).
Batches of 49g packets of Koala brand biscuits manufactured by Lotte China Foods Company are being withdrawn from sale and their destruction arranged by local authorities.
The product has been distributed to Chinese supermarkets and other independent retailers across the UK.
Meanwhile, melamine-linked recalls last week included the popular Chinese sweet White Rabbit, that has been withdrawn from shop shelves the world over.
Melamine is believed to have been used in some Chinese milk to create the appearance that a product has more protein than is really there and has been linked to kidney stones and other health problems.
It has been connected to a number of the country’s leading dairy companies’ products, including those of Sanlu, china’s leading milk supplier.
Four babies have died and almost 13,000 were hospitalised after drinking Sanlu formula contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine. Sanlu had received reports that babies were falling ill as far back as December 2007.
More than 300 Chinese milk producers and retailers issued a joint statement last month promising to reject sub-standard raw materials, strictly inspect production, and take responsibility for product quality.