Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety asked authorities on the mainland to examine meat and egg supply for traces of the chemical, according to the Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua after the eggs were found to contain nearly twice the tolerated 2.5mg of melamine per kilogram. Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities have started testing imported eggs, meat and vegetables after it emerged that cyromazine, a derivative of melamine, is widely used in pesticides and animal feed in China.
No European alerts
The discovery will fuel concerns that the chemical could turn up in products which had not previously been considered at risk of contamination, including bakery items containing Chinese-sourced egg products. For the moment, however, European authorities say they are aware of the situation but have not issued any food alerts to consumers.
A spokesman for the European Food Safety Authority told BakeryandSnacks.com: “We are aware of the media reports, but at the moment this is not something that we have been asked to look into by the Commission.”
The extra-large ‘Select Fresh Brown Eggs’ were found to contain 4.7mg of melamine per kilogram in tests carried out at the weekend. They were imported from the Hanwei Group in Dalian, in the northeastern Liaoning province and were for sale in Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop.
The Centre for Food Safety said it hoped that testing meat products in China will establish the source of the contamination.
Hong Kong’s health secretary York Chow was reported as saying: “Since some animal feed used on the mainland might have been polluted by melamine, our tests will target more on meat imported from the mainland. As we have found melamine in eggs, we shall also test chicken meat.”
The Chinese melamine scandal first hit headlines when tens of thousands of children were sickened and four killed after the chemical, normally found in plastics, was used to make watered down infant formula appear richer in protein.
Hong Kong authorities certified a safe level of melamine for human consumption in September of 2.5g per kilogram for adults and no more than 1g per kilogram for children.