Hanoi – Vietnamese health authorities have found the industrial chemical melamine in three brands of powdered milk imported from Australia, health officials said Friday. Nguyen Thi Khanh Tram, deputy director of Vietnam’s Food Safety and Hygiene Department, said the new discoveries brought the number of melamine-tainted products found in Vietnam to 32.
The three types of powdered milk were listed as Golden Food toddler formula, Happy IQ, and a generic Australian brand.
Tran Anh Tuan, director of Ho Chi Minh City-based Thuc Pham Vang Company, which imports Golden Food, said local authorities had ordered a recall of the product. She said she was not sure how much had already been sold to consumers.
Authorities said the melamine-tainted milk powder would be destroyed at toxic waste treatment stations, cement plants or biogas tanks.
Tram said the actual number of melamine-tainted products purchased for import into Vietnam was higher than 32, as some shipments had been tested at customs and sent back without entering the country. The country has 29 testing centers working on the melamine problem.
“We don’t know when it will stop,” Tram said.
Vietnamese dairy companies are experiencing financial difficulties due to the melamine scare, as consumer demand for milk has dropped.
“We suffered serious financial losses in October,” said Dang Anh Tuan, deputy general director of Hanoi Milk, the third largest dairy company in Vietnam. “We could only operate at 20 per cent of our designed production capacity.”
Hanoi Milk’s stock lost 37 per cent of its value in October.
An officer at the Mai Anh Company, which imports Happy IQ and the generic Australian powdered milk brand, said these and other melamine-tainted products had caused heavy financial losses to her company in September and October.
Melamine, an industrial chemical that causes kidney-related diseases, has been discovered in processed dairy products around the world since Chinese authorities acknowledged in September that it was widespread in milk processed by several major Chinese dairy companies. The chemical had been added by Chinese farmers to artificially boost the milks protein content.
It is used to make plastics and fertilizers.