SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean authorities have found trace amounts of melamine in milk products imported from New Zealand that were used in baby formula and banned their import, its food safety agency said Thursday.
The Korea Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that the product, lactoferrin, was produced by Tatua Cooperative Diary Company of New Zealand. South Korea was banning all other products made by the company pending further tests, it said.
No trace of the chemical has been found in 19 baby formula products tested, presumably because the additive makes up less than 0.1 percent of the final product, the agency said.
No comment was immediately available from Tauta, which on Monday had suspended exports of lactoferrin because of the melamine find. The company was also checking where its product had been exported to and trying to trace the source of the melamine contamination.
“There’s quite a lot of sensitivity around melamine even at low levels,” chief executive Paul McGilvary told the NZ Press Association at the time.
He said the New Zealand Food Safety Authority had found fewer than four parts per million of melamine in the Tatua product, and found there was no contamination of the company’s milk supply.
South Korea has banned the imports of Chinese milk powder and rice cookies produced in China. It has also recalled tainted products from store shelves.
A growing list of Chinese milk and milk-related products have been taken off shelves around the world in recent weeks after they have been found to be contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, sickening tens of thousands and killing four children.
Reporting by Jack Kim, additional reporting Gyles Beckford, Wellington; Editing by Jon Herskovitz and Valerie Lee