"Pay close attention to that man behind the curtain!"

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Moving the melamine goalposts

Do you trust the Ma administration with your lives?

From the Thursday, September 25, 2008 Taipei Times:
The Department of Health (DOH) said last night that the highest permissible concentration of melamime [sic] in raw materials and processed foods is to be 2.5 parts per million (ppm), rather than zero ppm as it had announced on Tuesday.

Because of this easing of standards malt extract and creamer manufactured by Union Chemical Industrial Co, Ltd and creamer manufactured by Festsun Enterprise Co Ltd, originally declared unsafe by the DOH on Tuesday, are now considered fit for consumption because their concentration is lower than 2.5ppm.

The new standard was the result of a meeting between the DOH, Bureau of Food and Drug Analysis and Food Industry Research and Development Institute. The use of 2.5ppm as a standard mirrors that used in Hong Kong.

However, for products meant to for consumption by infants, such as baby formula, the standard is set at 1ppm.

At an earlier press conference, the DOH contradicted itself about whether vegetable-based protein products would be among the products pulled from shelves until they could be tested for melamine.
Some obvious questions arise: "Do they know what they're doing?" "Are they making it up as they go along?" "Did money play a part in the changing standards?"

Be sure to read the rest of that article to learn more about the media relations clusterfuck that happened as Deputy Health Minister Sung Yen-jen (宋晏仁) gave and withheld information.

Also take a look at this graphic which names the companies whose products -- more than 200 metric tons' worth -- tested positive for melamine. Pay special attention to the items which are qualified as being "Positive at negligible amounts." That graphic also names companies affected but doesn't name the specific products. From what I saw in last night's news reports, those products include chocolate, ice cream, yogurt, boxed milk tea, 3-in-1 coffee mix, dried tofu, vegetarian meats, and more.

Here's a slightly more-detailed description of the products that are affected. On that same page, there is a PDF link (2.7 MB) which contains the aforementioned graphic at infinitely better resolution

The Ma government promised on Wednesday that all affected products would be removed from store shelves by Thursday. Can they be trusted to be sure that happens?

Related YouTube videos:
* CNN:53,000 babies fed tainted milk in China 三鹿全脂毒奶粉事件造成423名嬰兒患上了腎結石,還有一名嬰兒因此死亡 (September 14, 2008) -- CNN's John Vause reports from Beijing.
* Mad in China: China produces killer milk!! (September 15, 2008) -- Vause talks to people at Sanlu's national headquarters. Listen to the way he describes Taiwan at around the 2:00 mark: "Apart from Taiwan, all of the contaminated formula was meant for domestic consumption."
* [CNN] More Chinese products found contaminated 2008.09.19 (September 19, 2008) -- Vause, once again
* 三鹿奶粉廣告 -- an original Sanlu infant formula commercial
* China Tainted Baby Milk 's Commerical毒奶粉三鹿廣告 -- same as above, in case that one disappears or doesn't work
* Parodies of 2 Sanlu commercials

Solid concretions: , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at Taiwan Matters!

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