CAIRO: Minister of Health Hatem Al-Gabaly said that testing for toxic levels of melamine are now “obligatory for all types of milk products.
These tests are to be conducted “constantly and routinely, according to a ministry statement.
Milk and baby formula adulterated with melamine resulted in the death of six infants and serious illnesses among more than 300,000 in China last year.
The scandal has prompted many countries to make testing for products containing Chinese milk mandatory.
The European Union has decreed that products found to contain more than 2.5 mg/kg of melamine be immediately destroyed.
Egypt’s Health Ministry banned the importation of milk and milk products from China last October, but the new decree makes testing mandatory regardless of the country of origin.
The Ministry of Health said it has notified the National Center for Nutrition, the Egyptian Chemistry Institute, the faculty of agriculture at Cairo University, and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Central Laboratory of the decision and asked for their full support on reporting cases of contaminated milk.
“The Minister of Health previously announced in his meeting with the People’s Assembly (PA) health committee that most of our national labs are not qualified to detect the deadly melamine material, which requires complicated testing, Dr Akram Al-Shaer, former deputy of the PA’s health committee and current member, told Daily News Egypt.
However, according to Al-Shaer, the health minister has contracted a private lab to conduct these tests and has also promised to establish a new lab at the ministry equipped to test for melamine in milk products
However, having the appropriate facilities is not the only issue.
“I think that the minister’s decision being restricted on examining milk products and not other products whose components include milk is not efficient enough and may lead to severe consequences, Al-Shaer said.
Many products imported from China are available in the local market, he said, and they contain milk that might contain toxic levels of melamine, but are not tested.