India joins global bandwagon, bans dairy products from China

Written by Commodities Bureau | New Delhi, Sep 25 | Updated: Sep 26 2008, 05:53am hrs
Joining the growing list that has now around 12 nations, India, on Thursday, banned imports of milk and milk- products from China for three months, in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding contaminated milk powder that allegedly led to the illness of around 53,000 children caused four deaths in China. However, the decision is more of a preventive step, as Indias import of milk and milk-products from China is negligible.

The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) in the commerce and industry ministry, in a notification, said that the import of dairy products (including milk and milk-products) from China was prohibited with immediate effect for three months,until December 24. The prohibition comes two days after a similar decision on meat and poultry products from avian influenza-affected countries.

However, the value of total imports of milk and milk-products had fallen drastically by 72.4% to Rs 19.92 crore in April-March 2008 from Rs 72.22 crore in the same period last year. The weightage of milk and milk-products, with respect to total sensitive items, has declined from 0.25% in the April-March 2007 period to 0.07% in April-March 2008.

The scandal erupted in China after it was found that infant milk formula was tainted with a nitrogen-rich product called melamine.

Melamine is a low-priced industrial chemical that could be used to fool quality tests and make the protein content in milk look higher. So far, contaminated milk products from China have hit over 20 countries, mostly in Asia and Africa. Among the countries that have banned or withdrawn such tainted milk products include India, France, Vietnam, Japan, Singapore, Myanmar, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Canada, Britain, Brunei, Hong Kong, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, New Zealand and Taiwan.

Even global bodies like Unicef and the WHO, have brought out a joint statement condemning the deliberate contamination of food.