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June 4, 2010

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China, fearing disease, blocks entry of Japan baby formula

Local entry-exit quarantine authorities yesterday reminded people not to bring in baby formula from Japan, or the products will be held at Customs.

Mailing milk powder from Japan is also banned.

Earlier this week, Shanghai Entry-Exit Quarantine and Inspection Bureau said China has suspended baby formula import from Japan because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Miyazaki.

The imports will not be resumed until the epidemic is under control.

Bureau officials said they will use X-rays and quarantine dogs to tighten inspections of passengers' luggage and mailed parcels from Japan. Milk powder found in luggage will be destroyed and parcels will be returned.

In reaction, some young parents in Shanghai have started stocking up on milk powder for their babies. On a popular Shanghai online forum, some parents said they have collected around 10 cans of milk powder to make it through the embargo.

A Netizen with the ID of "Bixian" said she bought eight cans of made-in-Japan milk powder with Chinese labels in a domestic market for her son because they were produced before the disease's occurrence.

"I don't know whether it will be enough for him," she said in a post. "I hope the import can be reopen soon."

A seller called "direct hands" on, one of the biggest purchasing Websites in China, said that although many buyers have asked her to try to get around the Customs check, she decided to suspend business.

"If buyers insist on buying, I can send it to them as usual, but I won't be responsible if the products are detained," she said.

After the melamine scandal in China, an increasing number of parents chose to use imported baby formula, believing it to be safer. Japanese milk powder was praised for its fine and smooth character, which is good for babies suffering from constipation.

Since April, however, foot-and-mouth disease spread rapidly in Miyazaki. As of Friday, 100,000 animals, including the prefecture's prize stud bulls, had been slaughtered and another 200,000 animals are likely to be affected, according to The Japan Times Online.


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