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March 30, 2013

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Imported baby formula tests begin as milk removed for possible taint

CITY officials yesterday started to analyze the nutrition and the physical and chemical properties of Hero Nutradefense infant formula, which was ordered off local shelves on Thursday after reports said it had been mixed with expired milk powder and given altered expiration dates.

Officials also are checking the batch numbers on the formula with customs to study whether the products were really imported as the company claimed, said officials from Shanghai's Food Safety Office yesterday. The baby formula was marked as having a "100 percent imported dairy from the Netherlands."

Gu Zhenhua, vice director of the Shanghai Food Safety Office, said officials will keep a closer eye on baby formula and the documentation. The office had not received previous reports about the substandard baby formula.

Xile Meisu Co, the Swiss-based Hero Group's office in Shanghai, was ordered to remove its products from city stores on Thursday after a CCTV report. By 4pm, about 1,300 kilograms of the formula had been removed from 28 stores and 15 supermarkets in the city.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau is checking all local stores and supermarkets.

According to a CCTV report on Thursday, Xile Lier, Hero Group's sole authorized China dealer for the import formula, based in Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, was found by Suzhou's quality watchdog in November to have mixed expired milk powder and an unknown milk source with the imported formula. The report also said it changed production and expiration dates, repackaged the formula and changed the labels on formula for older babies to sell it as the more expensive milk for younger children.

More than 520,000 packs and 38,868 cans worth 50 million yuan (US$8 million) were confiscated by Suzhou police in November, enough to feed about 12,400 children for six months, CCTV said.

Authorities in Suzhou said they shut down production lines at the firm in November following a whistleblower's report, but CCTV said they hadn't ordered a recall or publicized the problem. Products sold under the Hero Nutradefense label were still widely available nationwide.

According to yesterday's Xinmin Evening News, Shanghai-based Xile Meisu distributed products to such places as Shanghai, Beijing, and the provinces of Heilongjiang, Liaoning and Hebei each month in 2012 and used another Shanghai firm to import the formula after the Suzhou company was shut.

Mou Jun, head of Xile Lier, has been detained by police since the company had not acquired the necessary import certificates, Suzhou authorities said on Thursday. The legal representative of Xile Meisu also was detained by police, Xinmin Evening News said.


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