News last update:6 Aug 2012

Hong Kong finds melamine tainted eggs

Potentially toxic industrial chemical melamine has been found for the first time in eggs imported into Hong Kong from China, a media report said Sunday.

Eggs tainted with melamine were already detected last month in the same northeast Chinese city from where contaminated ones sold in Hong Kong originated, an official said Monday.

The safety inspector from Dalian city's food and drug department said tests were carried out on eggs for melamine in the wake of the scandal about the widespread use of the chemical in Chinese dairy products.

"Agricultural authorities carried out some checks into eggs after the (tainted) milk powder incident was disclosed, the official, who declined to be named, told AFP by phone.

Some eggs were found to be tainted with melamine, which were then destroyed, he said, without disclosing the quantity.

"We checked eggs in September and when we checked again in October, no melamine was found in eggs," the official said.

Food safety officials in Dalian held an emergency meeting Monday morning to deal with the fall-out from the tainted Hong Kong eggs, the Dalian food inspector said.

Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety said it would test samples of all eggs imported from China starting Monday after melamine was found in a box of eggs from Dalian in northern China.

Tests showed the eggs contained almost double the legal limit of the chemical, which is believed to have been in feed given to the chickens.

Health and food minister York Chow said the discoveries had heightened concerns about wider contamination in the food chain, and the centre would start testing meat and egg samples.

'We will conduct melamine tests on eggs imported from mainland China in the next four to five days,' he said.

More products tested
'The scope of testing for melamine will also be expanded to non-dairy products such as meat samples.'

Bio-chemist Chan King-ming said pork, chicken and fish could also be contaminated if feed were adulterated with melamine.

ParknShop, the supermarket chain which sold the eggs and is owned by one of Asia's richest men, Li Ka-shing, said it had removed eggs from sale.

The move has prompted concerns that the chemical, which can cause kidney stones and other renal problems particularly in children, has contaminated more of the city's food supply than first thought, the South China Morning Post said.

A centre spokesman said a three-year-old child would need to eat 12 of the eggs to exceed the safe daily intake of melamine. An adult would need to eat 144 eggs.

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