Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Melamine: Biscuit factory closes temporarily


The Khong Guan factory in Inanam has ceased operations temporarily following an order from the Health Department to recall 12 types of its biscuits from the company’s factory in Johor after finding higher than permitted levels of melamine in them. A check by Borneo Post found only a few workers at the premises yesterday, with most workers asked to go on leave. According to one of the workers, all workers from the production section were given five days’ leave on Friday and will resume work either today or tomorrow, depending on the tests conducted y Health Department on their biscuits. “Health Department personnel came to this factory on Friday and Saturday to take some samples of biscuits for a melamine-level test,” the 40-year-old worker said. Another worker, identified as Johan, said workers from the factory were given five days’ leave and they passed their time in their quarters. “We will resume work either on Wednesday or Thursday,” said the 20-year-old worker from the four processing section. On Oct 14, the Johor Health Department seized 107 tonnes of biscuits and raw materials such as flour, cream, ammonium bicarbonate and sodium bicarbonate worth RM56 1,000 from the factory in Senai. The seizure followed the discovery of melamine levels in the biscuits of between 3.28mg and 22mg per kg, more than the permitted 2.5mg/kg or 2.5ppm. Among the biscuits were Soda Biscuits, Lemon Puffs Butter Cream, Baby Fish, Healthy Cracker, Cocoa Puff, Sandwich Oren, Family Crackers and Mini Puff. On Oct 16, the Government prohibited the import of ammonium bicarbonate (baking powder) from China following the findings of higher than permitted levels of melamine. The next day, two Khong Guan biscuit factories promised to cooperate with the Health Department and take the necessary action to ensure that 18 of their products would be safe for consumption. Melamine is a highly toxic chemical used in plastics and fertilisers. By itself it is nontoxic in low doses but when combined with cyanuric acid can cause fatal kidney stones. It is used to make dairy products look more attractive, and in China the tainted products have killed several children and sickened thousands of others. At first, only milk products were said to contain melamine residue, but public health authorities are now wary of other products that could contain milk-derived ingredients from China including candies, desserts and beverages.