EU bans children's food imports from China

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The Independent Online

A Europe-wide ban on all food for children coming from China comes into force today.

The European Commission's ban comes amid growing concern over contaminated milk powder which has already caused infant deaths in China and affected thousands more children.

A Commission spokeswoman said some EU countries - and some sectors of the food industry - had already announced their own bans, but now Brussels was activating an explicit total ban on all products from China aimed at infants and young children and which could pose a threat of contamination.

The decision, under EU health and safety provisions, was announced yesterday and will be formally adopted today, along with an agreement to step up testing of all other food imports from China which contain at least 15% milk products.

There will also be random testing of other foods which could be affected.

But the spokeswoman emphasised: "As far as we know there has been no contamination in food originating from China which has already been imported into the EU."

The UK's Food Standards Agency (FSA) said yesterday there was no evidence of contaminated products from China arriving here.

A spokesman said: "There is no evidence that any products containing the affected milk products have made it to the UK. But industry and the FSA are well placed to take action if any are found."

Tesco withdrew a brand of Chinese sweets on the advice of the FSA this week following reports that they could contain melamine, the substance at the centre of the milk poisoning scandal.

But the FSA spokesman said the decision to ask retailers to withdraw Chinese White Rabbit Creamy Candies was a precaution.

The sweets were made by many manufacturers across China, who did not necessarily use the contaminated milk.

The FSA had therefore asked companies to identify the source of the sweets they had been selling before ordering further testing, he added.