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September 19, 2012

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Bright Dairy recalls baby product for banned additive in latest goof

SHANGHAI-BASED Bright Dairy has taken a cheese product for babies off the shelves nationwide after it was found to contain a banned additive, the dairy giant said yesterday.

"Bright Dairy has recalled all of the products on the market and apologizes over the misleading packages," it said in a statement.

The additive, milk mineral, is not allowed for babies according to regulations issued by the Ministry of Health in 2009 as it is a newly extracted compound with unproven effects on babies.

The ingredient was printed on the package of the cheese product designed for children aged one to three.

Compared with adults, babies are more vulnerable and sensitive to additives like colostrum, which may have potential risks to their health and development, therefore some additives are banned from being used on dairy products for babies in China, Cao Mingshi, deputy secretary general of the Shanghai Dairy Association, told Shanghai Daily.

Dietician Li Dongye said whether milk mineral is safe or not, or will hinder children's development, is unknown and different people may react differently even if no adverse reaction had been detected.

Bright Dairy, however, insisted the product is safe and has passed all quality tests.

"Milk mineral is a natural and safe source of calcium," it said in the statement. It said the ingredient has been added since 2009, before the ministry adopted the new regulations.

The formula of the cheese was made before 2009, an official with Bright Dairy's quality division surnamed Ju said.

Bright Dairy said it pulled the cheese off shelves nationwide in early September to avoid consumer misunderstandings, and the product will reach the market again in October with a new package.

However, some big chain supermarkets in the city said they didn't know about the recall until yesterday, when Beijing Times reported its readers found the banned additive on the package of the cheese product.

The NGS supermarket chain said all of its supermarkets were still selling the products, one of original flavor and one of coconut milk flavor, yesterday until its staff members saw the Beijing Time report online.

"We did not receive any notification from Bright Dairy and we called the company to ask about the situation after we saw the report," said Gan Pingzhong, an official with NGS quality monitoring division.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said it ordered all supermarkets and convenience stores in the city to remove the cheese products from shelves yesterday.

The time-honored dairy brand has been entangled in a number of safety scandals recently.

Early this month, nearly 1,000 households in Shanghai received sour milk produced by the dairy giant. It blamed the quality problem on transport tricycles. In June, its Ubest milk was found to be contaminated with an alkaline solution. An automatic valve didn't switch on at one of Bright's factories.

"There is no safe domestic milk, but what can we do?" said a consumer, Zhang Baojuan, at a supermarket as she was picking up some yoghurt products.


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