Huishan Dairy 'taking legal advice' after Chinese milk safety alert withdrawn
The Hebei Food and Drug Administration announced on September 29 it had withdrawn a September 18 food safety alert relating to a batch of Huishan fresh milk.
Sales of high-calcium Huishan fresh milk in 240ml Tetra Pak cartons with an expiry date of August 25 were also suspended after it detected "excessive sodium thiocyanate" levels in a batch.
It reported sodium thiocyanate levels of 15.2mg per kg - higher than the Chinese national food safety limit of 10mg per kg.
The value of the Huishan fresh milk in question was less than RMB 280,000 ($44,000), Huishan said.
However, after further tests by it, Liaoning Food and Drug Administration and two third-party laboratories, the Hebei Food and Drug Administration withdrew its earlier food safety alert.
"The Board announce that on 29 September 2015 midnight, the Hebei Food and Drug Administration has issued a notice confirming retraction of its product safety report issued on 24 September 205 against the Company's dairy products," Huishan said in a statement filed with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong.
In a further statement, Huishan branded Hebei Food and Drug Administration’s food safety warning “inappropriate."
“This hasty and subjective disclosure not only brought immense negative influence on the Company, but may also give rise to unnecessary harm to the domestic dairy industry, causing panic generally to consumers," it said.
“The Company is taking legal advice and reserves its rights to take legal actions against third parties who are the source of, or circulate, unsubstantiated claims about the product safety of the Group’s products.”
On news of the Hebei Food and Drug Administration alert, Huishan sent samples of fresh milk from the batch in question to two third-party laboratories for testing.
Both deemed sodium thiocyanate levels in the samples to be "lower than the national reference level," Huishan said.
Liaoning Food and Drug Administration also concluded that sodium thiocyanate levels in the batch were "lower than the national reference level."
Further emergency tests conducted by the Hebei Food and Drug Administration on seven batches of Huishan products found that none "contained sodium thiocyanate in excess of the national food safety reference level."
“In view of the fact milk itself has some sodium thiocyanate background values, and the Codex Alimentarius Commission provisions allow raw milk is added sodium thiocyanate limit 14mg per kg, combined with emergency sampling test results, the experts judged that 15.2mg per kg detection value previously released on the health risks of consumers is low,” the Hebei Food and Drug Administration wrote in a statement issued September 29.