EcoWaste Coalition Urges Bureau of Customs to Ensure Non-Entry of Mercury-Tainted Milk from China

(China Daily/Jakarta Post)

A toxics watchdog has called upon the Bureau of Customs to ensure that recalled mercury-tainted milk products from China will not find its way into the local market.

In a statement made in response to the most recent food safety incident in China, the EcoWaste Coalition urged customs inspectors to be on their guard against possible entry of the recalled milk products.

Last Friday, the Yili Industrial Group, a major dairy company in China, recalled their Quan You infant formula manufactured between November 2011 and May 2012 after finding “abnormal amounts” of mercury in their products.

“We request Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon and our customs inspectors to ensure that no mercury-containing milk products are dumped into our ports by unscrupulous traders,” said Manny C. Calonzo of the EcoWaste Coalition.

“Mercury in milk would have extremely damaging, if not lethal, effects on children’s health and development,” he said.

For her part, breastfeeding advocate Ines Fernandez of Arugaan said: “The latest toxic milk episode in China could be another case of corporate fraud and greed similar to the 2008 melamine in milk scandal in 2008 that killed at least six babies and affected some 300,000 victims. The incident only underscores the importance of promoting and supporting breastmilk as a natural, traditional and ecological way of feeding infants.”

According to health studies, exposures to mercury can interfere with developing neurons in the brain and can cause irreversible damage to the central nervous system, especially in developing fetuses and children.

Some of the adverse health effects of mercury exposure include deficits in IQ,abnormal muscle tone and loses in motor function, attention and audio-visual performance.

The groups called for increased consumer vigilance against dangerous goods inthe market, especially food products that are marketed for babies and young children.

The groups appealed to citizens to report any individual or store selling the recalled milk products through the following hotlines of the Food and Drug Administration: 807-8275 or 842-5606.