India says no to Chinese milk for another year
India banned Chinese milk in 2008 when the melamine contamination scandal broke in China, which affected over 300,000 children, and was implicated in the death of up to 12 infant deaths.
The Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has extended the prohibition that includes chocolates and chocolate products and candies, confectionary and food preparations with milk or milk solids as an ingredient for another year.
The ban extension did not specifically cite melamine, though sources within the Indian dairy sector have said the ban is likely to continue while any doubts remain about the safety of the Chinese sector.
The move was made after the Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI) recommended extension of the ban on milk and its products in late June taking into consideration reports of poor quality standards of milk in China.
The Chinese dairy sector has been implementing improvement measures so the ban extension will come as a blow.
In late May, Song Kungang, head of the China Dairy Association (CDA), told a Beijing conference that dairy and infant formula quality in the country was better than it had ever been.
Kungang said that in the random sample inspections that the association and food safety authorities have been conducting, more than 99% of the samples passed quality and safety tests.
Kungang said the Chinese dairy industry had seen fundamental changes since the melamine incident in 2008. “The industry has been cleaned up, the licensing system improved and better implemented, and the process of product monitoring checks has also been improved,” he said.
According to the CDA, the new quality control revised standards for infant formula milk powders are now on par with western standards. Better processing technologies and quality assurance systems couple with a more stringent regulatory environment have also helped improve product standards.