Boston Consumers Should Avoid Milk Products From China

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Officials from the Boston Public Health Commission and Massachusetts Department of Public Health today advised consumers to avoid milk or milk products from China because of the possible presence of melamine, until laboratory testing is completed to determine whether the products are harmful.

Dr. Anita Barry, director of the Commission's Communicable Disease Control Division, said public health authorities were not of aware of any infants, children, or adults in Boston becoming ill as a result of consuming adulterated milk products from China, and said the warning was "precautionary."

"We think it's prudent that consumers stop using those products until we know more," she said.

Investigations to date in China have revealed the presence of melamine in 22 milk or milk products manufactured in China. Milk and milk products are components of many consumer food and beverage products manufactured in China, such as instant coffee containing a creamer, tea with powdered milk, instant packaged breakfast cereal (3 in 1), candy, and other products.

At least 52,857 infants in China have become sick with kidney stones or kidney failure associated with the consumption of infant formula containing melamine. There have been at least four deaths, and 12,892 people have been hospitalized.

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Several countries outside the United States have expanded their investigation of the presence of melamine to include food and beverage items other than infant formula.

Countries including Cambodia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan, Australia, Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, and New Zealand have initiated testing and recall of some milk or milk containing products suspected of containing melamine. The presence of melamine in candy (Creamy White Rabbit) has been confirmed in at least one of these countries.

The Public Health Commission and Boston Inspectional Services, as well as state and other local health officials, have not found any implicated infant formula in retail stores in Boston or any other municipality across the state.

State officials are working closely with Boston and other local public health officials to conduct surveillance in areas where these products are more likely to be sold.

The Boston Public Health Commission, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health are working to identify and test consumer products that may contain contaminated milk. Food testing results are not expected to be available for several days.

Dr. Barry said that although no illnesses have been reported in Boston, consumers should examine product labels and avoid milk and milk products from China until more information becomes available.

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