Rapeseed meal, soybean meal, and oil meal – by-products of vegetable oil production – have been imported from India to China for many years for use as cattle feed to the country’s burgeoning dairy and meat sector.
Last week China removed India from the list of countries that it would import the products from, after it found traces of malachite green contamination in Indian consignments.
Jute bags the scoundrels
According to a statement from the Indian Solvent Extractor’s Association (SEA), Chinese authorities claimed to have discovered 0.5-1 parts per billion of malachite green in consignments from India.
Following that, a team from the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) is set to inspect vegetable oil processing units in India in February, a statement from the watchdog said.
SEA executive director B V Mehta said the contamination may have originated from the green ink used for marking jute bags. The association has directed its members to avoid using jute bags and green ink.
However Chinese watchdogs have not taken heed of this action and have continued to enforce the ban on Indian exporters for the current year, the SEA statement said.
India was a majority exporter of the two products to China, and countries like Pakistan and Australia are expected to take up its share after the ban. In 2010-11, India accounted for 28% of the 1.5m tonnes of rapeseed meal and 41% of the 290,000 tonnes of soybean meal imported into China.
Tit for tat?
Indian exporters are terming it as a retaliatory action for India not removing the ban on Chinese milk and dairy product imports.
“The ban has no grounding especially after we have stopped using jute bags. This is harassment and unfortunately, it’s the age-old tit for tat game being played between the two neighbors. And we are suffering,” a Delhi-based trader of rapeseed meal told FoodNavigator-Asia.
In early January the Indian Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) said the ban on the import of milk and its products from China would extend until at least June this year.
India banned the import of these food items in 2008 when the melamine milk contamination scandal broke in China, which affected over 300,000 children, and was implicated in the death of up to 12 infant deaths.
The DGFT said the ban, which was set to end on December 24, would be extended to June 24, 2012. The prohibition covers milk and products including chocolates and confectioneries with milk or milk solids as an ingredient.